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Index Shows US, China Make Gains in Technology Development

2019-7-27

A new report lists the United States among the five most innovative economies in the world.

Switzerland was the top rated country on the list, known as the Global Innovation Index 2019. It is followed by Sweden, the U.S., the Netherlands and Britain.

United Nations officials released the findings. The index is a project of the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization, the business school INSEAD, and Cornell University in New York.

The report notes, “Innovation is blossoming around the world,” although concerns about an economic slowdown and trade disputes continue.

Researchers used 80 economic measures to arrive at the final ratings. These included traditional measures like investment in research and development, as well as the number of international patents and trademarks sought. More modern measures include the number of mobile phone applications and high-technology exports produced.

The researchers considered different industries within each economy. The new report also has a special area on medical innovation. It describes artificial intelligence (AI), genomics and mobile health applications as areas that will change the way health care is provided for rich and developing nations.

People walk past an entrance to Ruijin Hospital, Oct. 25, 2018, in Shanghai. Doctors at Ruijin have tried to turn the hospital into a center of deep brain stimulation research.
People walk past an entrance to Ruijin Hospital, Oct. 25, 2018, in Shanghai. Doctors at Ruijin have tried to turn the hospital into a center of deep brain stimulation research.

Businesses spending more on development

The report studied the amount of money that businesses spend on research and development and compared it to government spending. It found that, in 2017, governments increased research and development spending by about 5 percent while businesses increased spending by 6.7 percent.

“Never in history have so many scientists worldwide labored at solving the most pressing global challenges,” the report said.

On the list of 129 economies, China appears in 14th place, moving up from 17th place a year ago.

The report praises China as a country “in the group of leading innovative nations.” The reasons, the report said, included China being a top producer of patents, industrial designs and trademarks. China also has many “high-tech exports and creative goods exports,” it added.

The United States rose from sixth place overall last year to third. The index rated the U.S. first for the openness of its markets and credit availability. It also ranked highly in patents and spending growth.

Some countries’ innovations outperformed others for the size of their economies. Among the top outperformers were India, Vietnam, Kenya and Moldova. India is number 52 on the new list, and ranked as the most innovative economy in Central and South Asia.

But many countries still do not have strong innovation in their economies. The bottom 10 countries in the index are Nicaragua, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Benin, Zambia, Guinea, Togo, Niger, Burundi and Yemen.

The report identified two issues that could slow growth in innovation in health care and other industries.

The first was slow spending on research and development by public organizations. The report said this was especially the case with high-income economies. It warned that because research and development drive technology, industries like health care could be affected.

The other issue was protectionism affecting the technology industry. The report said that efforts to place trade barriers hurting technology-intensive industries and limits to knowledge flows present risks to innovation around the world.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this Associated Press story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

innovative – adj. introducing or using new ideas and methods to solve problems

blossom – v. to change and grow more fully

patent – n. an official document that gives a person or company the right to be the only one to sell or produce a product for a set amount of time

trademark – n. something that identifies a product and cannot be used by another company without permission

application – n. a computer program that performs a special task

genomics – n. a field of study related to the genes of living things

challenge – n. a difficult problem

outperform – v. to perform better than a competitor even if you do not have as much that competitor

income – n. earnings; profits

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