Snapshot 2012 update: how innovative are we in the Caribbean?

A 2012 update of innovation in the Caribbean.

Table 1: GII 2012 top 10 countries (Source: INSEAD)

In recent months, there has been a growing focus across the region on innovation, especially in the ICT/IT space. One of the most obvious demonstrations of this has been the frequent application (app) and coding competitions that have been occurring, through which essentially, the Caribbean appears to be re-positioning itself to be a creator, rather than just a consumer of technology.

The Global Innovation Index (GII) produced by INSEAD, an internationally renowned university in Switzerland, provides one of the most comprehensive and current assessments of national innovation. The 2012 study assessed 141 countries, and also sought to examine the linkages between innovation and global growth. In this post, we highlight the performance of member countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and compare the 2012 results with those from the 2011 study and in our earlier post, Building innovation nations.

Measuring innovation

The GII comprises two sub-indices: an Innovation Input Sub-Index and an Innovation Output Sub-Index.  The Innovation Input Sub-Index assesses the extent to which contributors to innovation have been implemented, while the Innovation Output Sub-Index considers at the ways in which innovation is being demonstrated in an economy. Each Sub-index comprises a number of pillars, which in turn consist of indicators that have been grouped into sub-pillars (Table 2). Under the Innovation Input Sub-Index there are five pillars, whilst the Innovation Output Sub-Index has two. Nevertheless, across both pillars a total of 84 indicators are assessed.

Table 2: The framework of indicators used to develop the 2012 Global Innovation Index (Source: INSEAD)

The category “online creativity”, under the Creative Output sub-pillar, is a new addition to the 2012 exercise, which added four indicators aimed at gauging the extent to which countries are contributing to the Internet and to content development. Currently, the online creativity indicators are focussed on: generic Top-Level Domains (TLDs); country-code TLDs; Wikipedia monthly edits; and video uploads on YouTube.

To determine a country’s overall Innovation Index, under each sub-pillar, the weighted average of under each indicator is calculated. Thereafter:

1. The Innovation Input Sub-Index is the simple average of the first five pillar scores.

2. The Innovation Output Sub- Index is the simple average of the last two pillar scores.

3. The overall GII is the simple average of the Input and Output Sub-Indices.

4. The Innovation Efficiency Index is the ratio of the Output Sub- Index over the Input Sub-Index.  (Source: INSEAD)

How does the Caribbean stack up?

Since the 2012 GII exercise, two additional Caribbean/CARICOM countries have been added: Belize and the Dominican Republic, bringing the region’s presence on the index to five. Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, were again included in the assessment.

Once again, Guyana was the top ranked among this sub-grouping, at 77 out of 141 countries, with a score of 33.7 out of a maximum of 100, but has dropped 11 places from 2011, when it was ranked 66 out of 125 countries.  New entrant, Belize, followed Guyana at 80, with a score of 32.5. Third was Trinidad and Tobago, which dropped nine spots to 81, and had a score of 32.5. The Dominican Republic was fourth, and ranked 86th, with a score of 30.9. Finally, Jamaica trailed in at 91, a one-space improvement from last year, with a score of 30.2 out of 100. Figure 1 tracks the countries’ innovation ranking over the past four years.

Figure 1: Innovation ranking of select Caribbean countries from 2009—2012 (Source: INSEAD)

Upon closer scrutiny of the scoring, it can be observed that the countries received their higher score for the Innovation Input Sub-Index than for the Innovation Output Sub-Index. Hence the enabling environment for innovation is beginning to be created, but outputs are not being demonstrated on par with inputs. Figure 2 shows a breakdown of the scoring across the two main sub-indices, along with the efficiency index, whilst Table 3 highlights some of the strengths and weaknesses for the countries based on for the 2012 results.

Figure 2: Innovation Output and Input sub-indices from the 2012 GII for select Caribbean countries (Source: INSEAD)


Table 3: Strength and weaknesses of select Caribbean countries in 2012 GII assessment (Source: INSEAD)

A few parting thoughts…

Since the 2011 assessment, 16 countries have been added to the list, which to varying degrees would have had some impact on country ranking, particularly those to the bottom of the list. However, in order to make any significant progress up the ranking, countries would have to demonstrate marked improvement, since all other countries would also be working towards improving their place on the list.

Evidenced by their ranking on the 2012 GII, there is still much to be done in the Caribbean to increase innovation. Based on Table 3 above, education, the business environment and e-participation, are some of the key inputs that should be improved. On the flipside, we must more aggressively become exporters of technology, services and creativity. However, to realise such outputs will require, to varying degrees, a paradigm shift in the minds of policy makers, to truly nurture entrepreneurs and innovators, and not just create a work force.



  • hey ya,
    Interesting article. Your final para graph really does sum things up.. We need to get into the minds of our policy makers for constructive changes to take place.

    • Thanks Moni. The topic of innovation and entrepreneurship is extremely important, and will be critical for the continued development and competitiveness of our countries.

      Gone are the days when persons can go to school, do well, and be guaranteed a job… for life! Unfortunately, our systems and policies have yet to be (fully) revised to help us address this new reality, especially for the younger population. No doubt, interesting times are ahead…

  • Usefully analysis of the GIL measure for innovation. Now what are the policy initiatives being implemented across the Caribbean to nurture entrepreneurs and innovators..we have to ask ourselves.

    • Agreed VLS.

      My general observation is that to varying degrees across the region, govts have not yet fully committed to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. They are reluctant to allocate funds or develop initiatives in that area, and perhaps are hoping that private sector will take the lead there, so that they address other priorities, especially of the grassroots kind which bring votes.

      Consider this example, over the last few years and across the region, we have had a number of apps competitions, some of which has been government-initiated events. There might be much fanfare surrounding the competitions and the winners, but then it fizzles to nothing.

      I believe that innovation, in particular, requires a construct that demands persons to be progressive, and can be rewarded for their efforts – not necessarily with money only, but perhaps more importantly, opportunities and support for their outputs to be developed and implemented, which in turn encourages entrepreneurship.

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