State ranked 19th out of 132 economies for innovation

Republic still ranks highly but has fallen four places versus last year and seven since 2019

The Republic of Ireland has fallen four places in a ranking of the most innovative nations and is down seven places compared to two years ago.

The Global Innovation Index 2021 ranks the Republic 19th among 132 economies, as against 15th place last year and 12th in 2019.

The index, which has been compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (Wipo) ranks economies according to their innovation capabilities and covers 80 indicators.

Switzerland, Sweden, the US, and Britain continue to lead the innovation ranking: all have ranked in the top five in the past three years.


The Republic of Korea joins the top five for the first time this year, while four other Asian economies feature are included in the top 15: Singapore (8), China (12), Japan (13) and Hong Kong, China (14).

Relative to GDP, the Irish State’s performance is seen as being above expectations for its level of development.

The Republic is ranked 19th for innovation inputs and 22nd for outputs, ranks that are lower than both 2020 and 2019.

A breakdown of strengths and weaknesses ranks Ireland first in terms of ecological sustainability, and for intellectual property and ICT services exports as a percentage of total trade.


Other areas in which it performs strongly include software spending, life expectancy and knowledge absorption.

It performs badly in a number of areas though, most notably domestic industry diversification, where it is ranked 106th. Other areas in which the State has weaknesses are in labour productivity growth and education expenditure.

Overall, the latest rankings indicate scientific output, expenditures in research and development (R&D), intellectual property filings and venture capital deals globally continued to grow despite the Covid crisis.

Notably, R&D expenditures showed greater resilience during the pandemic-linked economic downturn than in previous slumps.

"This year's Global Innovation Index shows us that in spite of the massive impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on lives and livelihoods, many sectors have shown remarkable resilience – especially those that have embraced digitalisation, technology and innovation", said Wipo director general Daren Tang.

“As the world looks to rebuild from the pandemic, we know that innovation is integral to overcoming the common challenges that we face and to constructing a better future,” he added.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist