Australia has ranked 8th in the world in its use of ICT, according to the 2014 Global Innovation Index (GII) launched in Sydney today.
Sweden ranked first, followed by South Korea, Denmark and Finland.
The GII surveyed 143 worldwide economies around the world using 81 indicators to gauge their innovation capabilities and measurable results. It is compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD Business School, and Johnson Cornell University.
Australia was 21st in the rankings for ICT access, 9th in government online services, and 8th in e-participation, according to the index.
Australia’s overall ranking in the index was 17th compared to 19th last year, bumped up by strong performances in education, research and development, and infrastructure where we ranked inside the top 10 in each category.
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Bruno Lanvin, executive director of INSEAD’s European Competitiveness Initiative (IECI), said there is a high degree of stability in the top 20 economies ranked in the index.
That is reassuring for economies at the top but worrying for emerging economies not in the top 20, Lanvin said.
“We see a divide which seems to be stronger and stronger every year, at least it’s not reducing as fast as we were hoping it might reduce. China continues to make headway – ranking in the top 20 for the first time this year – but the majority of developing countries are remaining behind the median,” he said.
This divide is particularly visible in countries like India where “dozens of millions” of students need to be brought up to a level where they can start becoming innovators, said Lanvin.
“The sheer quantity, the size of the challenge to be faced, explains why this divide remains so visible,” he said.
There was some good news for developing nations, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of ‘innovation learners’ is higher than any other part of the world.
“So something is happening even in the poorest parts of the globe regarding innovation. Governments are taking notice, efforts are being made and people are given more opportunities to translate innovation into success,” he said.
Lanvin said economies will need to prepare people for jobs that haven’t been defined today.
“Think about [areas] like business analytics and big data as they were defined five years ago compared to what is happening today,” he said.
Technological innovation in areas like food production will be crucial and if innovation does not translate into these areas where we face the biggest challenges, it would have failed, he said.
Meanwhile, broadband services will be important for continued innovation particularly in countries with large geographical areas like Australia, said Lanvin.
“Where you have to combine the potential of various universities and businesses across such as wide country, you want to be able to work in real time.
It has been calculated by The World Bank that an increase in broadband infrastructure has a direct implication on GDP growth. And this is not been contradicted yet.
So we have many reasons to believe that investing in broadband is contributing to the performance of innovation,” he said.
Australia’s minister for industry, Ian Macfarlane, added that the political debate in Australia has not been about connecting business to business with fibre and ‘everyone accepts that.’
“There is a side argument about how much business should pay for that but that has not been the political argument.
“[The argument] has been whether or not we have to give individual households in every household access to 100Mbps and whether or not that’s an overkill, whether or not they can survive on 40Mbps … and only get time to boil the water not make the coffee before the movie is downloaded,” he said.