Snapshot: how innovative were Caribbean countries in 2015?
An examination of the 2015 Global Innovation Index and how the Caribbean countries included in that exercise performed.
Quite regularly, concern has been expressed in a variety of quarters about what is perceived as the lack of innovation across the Caribbean, and the need for it to be improved. Last year, collaboration between INSEAD, Cornell University and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and their knowledge partners resulted in the release of the Global Innovation Index 2015: Effective Innovation Policies for Development.
The Global Innovation Index is published every other year and currently is in its eighth edition. It aims to determine the level of innovation worldwide by examining factors that contribute to innovation. Here we examine the performance of the five Caribbean/Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries included in the exercise.
How innovation is measured
To measure innovation worldwide, 79 individual indicators are assessed across seven main pillars and 21 sub-pillars, as shown in Figure 1.
Through the data collected, it is possible to determine:
- the Innovation Input Sub-Index – the extent to which the national economy of a country enables innovative activities
- the Innovation Output Sub-Index – the extent to which outputs that are the results of innovative activities within the economy
- the Innovation Efficiency Ratio – the ratio of the Output Sub-Index score over the Input Sub-Index score
- the overall Global Innovation Index (GII) score – a simple average of the Input and Output Sub-Index scores
In the 2015 assessment of the GII, 141 countries were examined, but only five were from the Caribbean/Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region: Barbados; the Dominican Republic; Guyana; Jamaica; and Trinidad and Tobago.
How did Caribbean countries perform?
Of the five Caribbean countries included in the 2015 GII exercise, Barbados was the highest ranked at 37th out of 141 countries, as shown in Table 1. It was also the highest ranked country in Latin America and Caribbean, ahead of countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Argentina. Over 40 places lower is the next wave of Caribbean countries: Trinidad and Tobago at 80, Guyana at 86, and the Dominican Republic at 89. Jamaica is the lowest ranked, at 96, of 141 countries.
Upon a closer examination, it can be readily seen that Barbados scored considerably better than the other countries under review across the seven main pillars used to determine the GII (Figure 2). All countries got their highest scores for the institutional framework pillar, and thereafter for market and business sophistication pillars. Most countries received their lowest scores for the knowledge and technology outputs and the human capital and research pillars.
Finally, Table 2 below highlights select strengths and weaknesses of the countries, which generally is consistent with the scores each country received.
In summary, and as indicated earlier, the GII examines a wide cross-section of factors that either are known to contribute innovation, or are considered evidence of innovation, in countries. However, it could be argued that some of those factors still do not paint a true picture of the level of innovation that is occurring, as all countries do not perform or operate in exactly the same way.
Having said this, the pillars and indicators that are examined provide a comprehensive basis to evaluate the extent to which a country has the tools to be innovative. Hence, though not perfect, it can still provide countries with a starting point to consider their own performance in comparison to others, and to identify possible areas for improvement.
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