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China on threshold of top 10 most innovative economies: WIPO

A girl looks at a surgery robot during an expo of the World Robot Conference 2022 (WRC 2022) in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 18, 2022. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)

China, having ranked 14th and 12th in 2020 and 2021, respectively, steadily rose to the 11th place in 2022, and is now on the doorstep of the world's top 10 most innovative economies.

GENEVA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- China has moved up to 11th place in the 2022 Global Innovation Index (GII) and firmly remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30, according to the latest ranking published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on Thursday.

The GII, an annual ranking of the world's economies on innovation capacity and output, shows that Switzerland remains the world leader in innovation for the 12th consecutive year, followed by the U.S., Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK) and the Netherlands.

China, having ranked 14th and 12th in 2020 and 2021, respectively, steadily rose to the 11th place in 2022, and is now on the doorstep of the world's top 10 most innovative economies.

An unmanned vehicle runs for tests at the Beijing-Tianjin Zhongguancun tech town in Tianjin, north China, May 19, 2021. (Xinhua/Sun Fanyue)

"China's growth (in GII ranking) from 34th ten years ago to 11th (in 2022) … is really spectacular. The close attention paid by the government and the country to innovation as an engine of growth is paying off," WIPO Director General Daren Tang said at the press launch of GII 2022.

"The Chinese government takes IP (intellectual property) very seriously. They have five-year strategic plans in which they are able to harmonize IP policy making with all the related elements. China nurtures its innovation ecosystem in a holistic, comprehensive manner," he said.

Visitors view an AI robot at the 2022 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in east China's Shanghai, Sept. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)

The GII also shows that research and development (R&D) and other investments that drive innovative activities worldwide continued to boom in 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The top global corporate R&D spenders increased their expenditure by almost ten percent to over 900 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, higher than in pre-pandemic year 2019.

The increase was primarily driven by four industries: information and communication technology (ICT) hardware and electrical equipment; software and ICT services; pharmaceuticals and biotechnology; and construction and industrial metals.

Investments in global R&D in 2020 grew at a rate of 3.3 percent but slowed from the historically high 6.1 percent recorded in 2019. Government budget allocations for the top R&D spending economies showed strong growth in 2020. For 2021, however, the picture was more varied, with spending growing in South Korea and Germany but falling in the U.S. and Japan.

However, the WIPO chief noted that innovation is at a crossroads as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While innovation investments surged in 2020 and 2021, the outlook for 2022 is clouded not just by global uncertainties but continued underperformance in innovation-driven productivity. This is why we need to pay more attention to not just investing in innovation but to how it translates into economic and social impact. Quality and value will become as critical to success as quantity and scale," Tang said. ■