The Line

U.S. drops to 6th place in Innovation Index

By:Capacity Magazine

Issue:Winter 2015 : Nuts & Bolts


Despite its reputation for being an innovation powerhouse, the United States dropped a place in the latest Global Innovation Index, falling from the fifth spot in 2013 to sixth in 2014, behind Switzerland in first place, Great Britain in second, then Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands.

Why does the nation with the world’s greatest concentration of research universities and national laboratories along with inventors of GPS, the Internet and semiconductors rank behind Great Britain and Switzerland, inventor of the coo-coo clock?

Because the United States ranks 41st in the world in tertiary education and because it has “relatively low levels of student exchange with the rest of the world” (where the U.S. ranks 49th), say the creators of the Global Innovation Index (GII). “The level of tertiary [college] graduates in science and engineering is also low (84th) although it has seen improvements in its weaker areas including ecological sustainability (58th up from 74th in 2013) and intangible assets (72nd up from 86th in 2013).”

The United States does not rank well in many areas. Its rank in “political stability” is 38; in “government effectiveness,” it is 18; in “regulatory environment” it is 13; in “ease of starting a business,” it is 39; in “ease of paying taxes” it is ranked 46; in “graduates in science and engineering” it is 84.

In other areas the United States is highly ranked. In market sophistication,” it is ranked 1; in “university industry research collaboration” it is ranked 3; in “domestic-resident patent applications” it is ranked 1; in “computer software spending as a percentage of GDP” it is ranked 1; and in “video uploads to Youtube” it is ranked 1.


Articles in THE LINE are reprinted with permission from

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