It is a question that is often asked and is difficult to answer. What is "innovation" anyway?
That said, I thought I would investigate from one particular angle - robotics and related technologies. Over the past three years we have been developing our database of robotics and have over 1,600 technologies listed from companies across the world. So we have a pretty good dataset with which to work from. We thought we would carry out some data analysis and see what we could find.
First we analysed the number of manufacturers/vendors of robotics technologies.
The United States has far and away the greatest number of robotics vendors listed, followed by the United Kingdom.
Next, we normalised the data with the population of each country. After all, countries with larger populations might be expected to have more vendors than the smaller countries.
This picture gives one perspective on the "most innovative countries" for robotics. Switzerland and Norway could be considered "most innovative" in particular since they have the most robotics companies per head of population. But the United Kingdom, Austria, Israel, Sweden and the United States are also doing well.
The blog next weekwill look at Switzerland and investigate what might be driving these results and why they appear particularly good at creating robotics companies.
Critique on the methodology
- The Idea Catalog does not contain every vendor in the world. It has a lot and it is expanding daily but there will be missing companies. We will monitor over time as the database increases.
- The data used to populate the database is English centric. This means our searches, feeds and knowledge base will favour English speaking countries - particularly the United Kingdom. Hence the reason the UK has so many entries at the moment. We are expanding our searches to cover more non-English sites.
- The entries do not reflect the size of the vendor and hence the likely revenue generated from being "innovative". Some of the entries might be startups that have no revenue and minimal staff. Others might be huge multinationals with tens of thousands of employees. Hence, the "most innovative" does not necessarily translate into increased GDP for a country.
- The definition of "innovation" is challenging and differs depending on your perspective. Here we are only considering technologies listed in the database focused on robotics. Clearly, countries can be innovative in many other areas of technology and so this can only be considered as a small subset of a much wider base of innovation.