Emerging Technologies

These are the world's leading science and technology hotspots

Science and technology have advanced industry and society to new levels.

Science and technology have advanced industry and society to new levels. Image: Unsplash/Ales Nesetril

Simon Torkington
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Tech and Innovation

  • Research highlights the world’s most innovative countries, in a new ranking by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • Switzerland tops the rankings for the 13th year in succession.
  • The World Economic Forum runs a knowledge network that drives forward technology and innovation to solve the world’s most pressing challenges.


The world’s leading economies have always been driven by innovation. From the invention of steam power and electricity to the development of artificial intelligence - science and technology have advanced industry and society to new levels.

In today’s digital world, countries that prioritize and nurture innovation are better positioned to address global challenges, from climate change to health crises.

But which nations are truly leading the charge in the realm of innovation?

The Global Innovation Index 2023 by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has ranked the 15 countries leading the world in science, technology and innovation.

GII Dynamo: Top 15 Innovators 2020-2023. science and technology
These countries lead the world in science, technology and innovation. Image: Global Innovation Index

According to the report, these nations are pioneering “a digital innovation wave, built on artificial intelligence (AI), supercomputing and automation, and a deep science innovation wave, based on biotechnologies and nanotechnologies”.

Here’s a summary of the achievements that have helped to place these countries among the world’s top 15 innovators:

1: Switzerland: Retains its top position in the Global Innovation Index 2023 for the 13th consecutive year. A robust innovation ecosystem is supported by well-established research institutions, a high level of R&D spending, and a conducive regulatory environment.

2: Sweden: Leads the world in business sophistication and has the highest ranked researchers. A strong performance in human capital adds to its high ranking.

3: United States: The home of Silicon Valley and world-renowned universities. The US scores highest in R&D investment.

4: United Kingdom: The UK’s strengths lie in its knowledge-intensive services and global R&D companies. It ranks 3rd for market sophistication.

5: Singapore: With its strategic location, pro-business policies and emphasis on knowledge-based industries, Singapore is the highest-ranked Asian country.

6: Finland: Ranked first in the world for infrastructure. An emphasis on education and research, plus a collaborative approach between the public and private sectors, drives its innovation success.

7: Netherlands: Ranks 8th in the world for business sophistication. Its open economy and strategic location in Europe makes it a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

8: Germany: Germany ranks 4th in human capital and research. It is a global leader in manufacturing and technology-driven innovations.

9: Denmark: Denmark is ranked 3rd for infrastructure, topping the list for environmental performance in that category.

10: Republic of Korea: South Korea’s R&D investment budget grew by 7.1% in 2021. An emphasis on electronics and telecommunications has made it a tech powerhouse in Asia.

11: France: Scored highly for industrial designs and for originating trademarks. France is noted for its commitment to digital innovation, especially in areas like AI and fintech.

12: China: China’s R&D spend is the second largest in the world, behind the US, and its research investment grew by 9.8% in the latest rankings.

13: Japan: Home to the world's largest science and technology cluster based in Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan is a top 3 Asian nation for filing patents.

14: Israel: Often referred to as the 'start-up nation', it ranks 5th in the world for knowledge and technology outputs.

15: Canada: Canada's research institutions and government policies have been supportive of innovation. It ranks 4th in the world for market sophistication.

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Regional innovation superpowers

The top 15 rankings in the WIPO report tell only part of the story. When looking at the leading innovators across regions, countries including Türkiye, Senegal and Kazakhstan have joined the ranks of nations leading the way.

Map illustrating the top three innovation economies by region.
Developing nations and emerging economies are climbing innovation rankings. Image: Global Innovation Index

Technology for a better future


The outputs of these leading innovation nations are a driving force behind some of the world’s most advanced technologies. The World Economic Forum’s report, Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2023, highlights the breakthroughs that are ushering in widespread transformation across industries and societies.

Figure illustrating a strategic Intelligence transformation map.
Innovative products and technologies are transforming industries. Image: World Economic Forum

The report explores how products as diverse as generative AI, sustainable aviation fuels, implanted crop sensors and neural electronics can transform lives and help us into a future defined by a stable climate, thriving biodiversity, productive crops and longer, happier and healthier human lives.

The role of technology as we advance into the digital age will top the agenda at the 2023 Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils (GFC), taking place in Dubai on October 16-18. The Forum’s GFC members will discuss the role of AI and explore how we can create the growth needed to support the global population in a sustainable way.

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