The world’s problems have never been more complex, which means the importance of solving them has never been more paramount. Thus, innovation has become a national priority, often the central economic priority, for most of the developed world.
Which brings us to a question.While the entire world primes itself for the World Cup, which will determine superiority on the soccer field, which countries are the global leaders in a more competitive, lucrative battle: fostering innovation?
For the answer, we turned to the most elite panel of judges ever assembled to measure global problem-solving capabilities: a group called the I-20, comprised of the top “innovations czars” in most of the world’s economically vibrant countries. Supported by The Institute for Large Scale Innovation, the brainchild of Daily Beast contributing editor John Kao, the I-20 has swelled from its original members to national “chief innovations officers” in 25 countries. These cabinet or near-cabinet-level officials, in governments from all six inhabited continents, from South Korea to Australia to Germany to Rwanda, are charged with peering around the world, gauging what’s working, and making their countries more forward-looking and competitive.
We asked this panel to rate the most innovative countries in the world—those that foster and harness ideas and problem-solving. Their responses, and comments, were kept anonymous, to ensure honesty; voting for your own country was disallowed.