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Bill Bennett


Global Innovation Index says New Zealand lags Australia

According to the 2014 Global Innovation Index New Zealand has fallen behind Australia. New Zealand is now ranked 18, down one place from last year. Meanwhile Australia moved from 19 to 17. Switzerland is number one and the UK is in second place. 

As its name suggests, the Index, published by Cornell University, Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, measured nations’ relative ability to innovate.

In practice a one place move up or down the table is not a big deal. The truth is New Zealand and Australia are more or less on level pegging with only 0.5 out of a possible 100 between the two.

Given the relative size of the two economies, we’re not doing badly. On the other hand, New Zealand could improve.

A closer look:

  • According to the Index, New Zealand ranks first for investor protection and first for ‘ease of starting a business’. Both are extremely important for innovation.
  • New Zealand rates at three for ‘political stability and the absence of violence or terrorism’. That’s great, we can often lose sight of this strength.
  • And we do well when it comes to government effectiveness, New Zealand ranks at nine in the world.
  • I’m not sure how the researchers decided New Zealand is six in the world for ‘press freedom’, our media sector is small compared with elsewhere and there’s little in the way of investigative reporting.
  • New Zealand ranks four for ‘regulatory quality’. That squares with my observation.
  • The Index ranks New Zealand nine when it comes to spending on education as a percentage of GDP — again that’s something we can lose sight of in the political hurly-burly. On the other hand, we only rank at 49 in terms of education spending per student and a lowly 52 in terms of pupil teacher ratio. This may explain why we come in at 16 for assessment in reading, maths and science.
  • Among the identified weaknesses are the value New Zealand gets, or rather doesn’t get, from energy use and the lack of spending on computer software. We also have a low ratio of technology output as a percentage of total manufacturing output along with low communications, computer and information services exports.




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