Established in 2001, InnoCentive provided an internet platform for researchers to collectively address challenges in the business world or the fields of physics, chemistry, and biology, among others. The platform features a team of more than 375,000 individuals across around 200 countries who search for innovative solutions to these challenges, and any person with a creative perspective may join the team. The website poses the challenges it receives to its members, who then compete to solve the challenge by demonstrating their abilities to invent and create when seeking the ideal solution. The member with the best idea is given a prize that may be valued at tens of thousands of dollars, and in return InnoCentive sells the solution to the inquiring party.
The InnoCentive experiment can be considered a smaller example of the competition taking place on a larger scale between nations seeking to advance and rise on the Global Innovation Index. We now have access to a number of innovative, global projects that are no longer monopolized by a precious few, and that are now gaining great interest among private and government institutions. The scope of the solutions that are currently seeing light on an annual basis confirm the concept that invention and creativity are currently in high demand, and are not just intellectual flights of fancy or value-added services. The index, which measures the innovations provided by both institutions and nations, is an indicator of how these nations have distinguished themselves on the world stage and their commitment to providing world-class living standards for their citizens.
The Global Innovation Index first appeared in 2007, and is published in cooperation with Cornell University (Johnson), the INSEAD Business School, and the World Intellectual Property Organization. The index is released annually, listing in order 128 nations and economies worldwide according to their innovative contributions. The index is compiled by combining data collected from 80 other indices, which include factors such as the development of human capital, the financing of development operations, the performance of universities, and other factors related to patenting inventions, among others.
The latest of these reports was published last August, and topping the list of 128 countries were: Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Finland (listed in order). In the Arab region, the United Arab Emirates rose on the index and now occupies the 41st position worldwide for innovation, followed by Saudi Arabia (49), Qatar (50), Bahrain (57), and Kuwait (67). The report details over 450 pages clarifying the mathematical models and the reasoning that went into creating the list. It is useful to go into the various factors that have allowed the United Arab Emirates to be the first among Arab nations in this regard. This isn’t just an obsession with detail, but transforms the listing from merely a number into a practical reality that can be implemented elsewhere, as the contributing indicators are best suited to shed a light on the sectors that are the biggest drivers of invention in the nation.
Beyond acquiring the 41st position worldwide in innovation, the United Arab Emirates has also achieved the following standings according to the additional indicators considered:
Position 22 worldwide – Institutions Indicator: this indicator measures the political environment and its stability, the effectiveness of government, the legal environment and rule of law, and the business environment. The last element is assessed according to the ease of establishing business, the ability to find solutions, and the payment of taxes. It must be noted that the Emirates as a nation seeks to create a suitable environment for entrepreneurs, whether by providing incentives to the entrepreneurs for the implementation of their project, or by holding annual conferences in this regard.
Position 41 worldwide – Human Capital Research Indicator: This indicator considers the education level in a country as well as the research and development field and the amount of spending made in this field.
Position 23 worldwide – Infrastructure Indicator: The UAE also holds the position of 12th worldwide in information and communication technology, and the position of 13th worldwide in general infrastructure.
By reviewing the factors considered to establish the index, a few more elements reveal the reason for the UAE’s prominence on the list, which include:
Ease of paying taxes (first worldwide)
Ratio of international higher education students (first worldwide)
Government services online (12th worldwide)
Electrical power generators (10th worldwide)
Local competition density (7th worldwide)
Establishment of a practical model for information and communication (7th worldwide)
Establishing an institutional model for information and communication (10th worldwide)
Comparing the 2016 and 2015 Global Innovation Indices allows us to understand the mechanism that allowed the UAE to rise six positions year-on-year. The review points out two radical advances in two important indicators:
The first is the investment indicator, which saw the UAE advance from the 105th position worldwide to the 55th position. The investment indicator considers elements such as the ease of protecting small-scale investors, market value, total marketed products, and venture capital deals. The progress on this indicator reveals the nation’s efforts to attract and incentivize investment, as well as preparing favorable conditions for entrepreneurs and startup companies.
The second indicator deals with knowledge and technology production, and the UAE moved up 48 positions on the list, currently occupying position 86 worldwide after moving up from position 134 last year. This indicator focuses on the requests for patents on inventions, articles and research published annually, as well as other factors that affect the operations concerned by the indicator, such as the development of new businesses, the expenditure on program development, and the acquisition of ISO 9001 (Quality Management Systems) certificates. Finally, the indicator focuses on the distribution of knowledge through the production of technology, information and communication services, intellectual rights protections, and the flow of direct international investment.
In light of the release of the index, HE the Minister of Economy Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori has issued a statement confirming that invention is a main pillar of support in driving the economic development of the nation. The nation’s guiding policies aim to place the UAE among the top ten nations on the Global Innovation Index before the golden jubilee of the establishment of the union, and are in line with the UAE Vision 2021. The results of the index, which confirms the leadership position held by the UAE in the region, are in perfect sync with the directives and efforts expended by the nation in this regard, particularly in the last few years. Innovation has become an inseparable factor for successful performance in the UAE, enabling competition across the board, whether in government or among commercial enterprises and the private sector.
Among the most important effects of globalization has been the creation of a world that has seen intense competition among its nations to advance technological research. Today, these research projects are not the ultimate aim, but rather a tool to be used by the most innovative minds in developing creative new solutions to modern problems faced by individuals, institutions, and nations alike. Whereas the segment of inventors and creators was relatively small in the last century, today the gap is closing between the general populace and the world of innovation thanks to the continued publication of studies, books, and inventions. Educational curriculums now concentrate on developing traits in students that promote creativity and invention. It is now up to the remaining national institutions to provide the incentives and practical facilities needed to create entrepreneurial ideas on the one hand, and to ease the process of implementing these suggested development ideas on the other.
As a nation leading the region in this field, the UAE is now among the nations competing to occupy leading positions on the Global Innovation Index. Having risen 6 spots on the index year-on-year, the government has not slowed down in its continued pursuit to attain higher and higher rankings on the index and to be among the top ten nations on the list within the next few years.