Estonia tops new innovation ranking

Three countries this year outperformed the United States in the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) 2019’s International Scorecard, with Estonia one of them (the others were Switzerland and Finland).

The Estonians, Swiss, and the Finns enjoy higher air and water quality, blazing fast broadband speeds, and openness to new business models,” writes Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, for Venture Beat.

“With the 2019 International Innovation Scorecard, we are expanding the report in both breadth and depth, adding 23 new countries and two new categories. In this second edition, we evaluate 61 countries and the European Union across 28 indicators, to determine whether they are stifling progress or fuelling the fires of innovation and improving our lives,” said the CTA in a statement.

Of the 61 countries, 11 are from emerging Europe, and while Estonia tops the list, the Czech Republic is next in line for the region coming in at 22, followed by Lithuania at 23, Romania at 27, Poland at 29. Slovakia at 44.

The CTA have published individual country scorecards on their website with additional details of where each countries strengths lie as well as where they could improve.

“Countries that will blaze the most enduring paths to progress are those embracing policies to foster invention. It may seem hard to imagine today, but it’s not unthinkable that a decade from now, other countries will attract more tech talent and research and development (R&D) dollars than the United States does. The US has long been a global leader in innovation. But as other countries adopt smart policies favouring innovation and avoid choking creativity, they may surpass us,” adds Mr Shapiro.

It is not only about internet speed and air or water quality that will put the US behind other countries, many countries are advancing due to changes in policy and laws:

“We also risk being outpaced when it comes to self-driving vehicles. Take Poland, for example. Until a few years ago, Polish laws outlawed self-driving vehicles on the roads. But from 2017 to 2018, Poland made several dramatic changes to its traffic legislation to address self-driving vehicles, including a recent amendment that allows testing on public roads when a human backup driver is present. Poland has joined 31 other countries that have enacted rules to allow for the testing and research of self-driving technology. Regionally, Poland now competes with the Czech Republic, Germany, and Lithuania — all of which welcome self-driving vehicles. And Poland is also set to outpace the Russians and Slovakians if those countries do not change their approach to self-driving technology,” explains Mr Shapiro

Yet based on the data of the scorecard, some countries in emerging Europe have fallen slightly, such as the Czech Republic.

“Three 2018 innovation champions dropped in the rankings to innovation leaders this year. The Czech Republic’s grade in R&D fell due to low investment, which declined almost 15 per cent year on year.”

“To be leaders in innovation, nations must drop protectionist rules and end barriers that limit them from creating the next great start-ups that will change the world for the better,” Mr Shaprio said during the CTA keynote at CES 2019.

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