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Global Investments in Science and Innovation were Resilient during COVID-19

A new report, Global Innovation Index 2022, from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) indicates that research and development (R&D) investments thrived at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and continued to boom in 2021. This spike in innovation occurred despite the global recession and economic lockdowns in many countries, pointing to the importance of innovation for pandemic solutions and recovery.

In 2021, corporations that historically spent the largest amount on R&D further increased their R&D expenditures by almost 10% to over $900 billion USD. This growth was primarily driven by four industry sectors: information and communication technology (ICT) hardware and electrical equipment, software and ICT services, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and construction and industrial metals.

The report ranks the global economies on innovation capacity and output. Switzerland was ranked as the most innovative economy in the world in 2022—for the 12th year in a row—followed by the United States, Sweden, United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa Saw Growth in 2021

Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa improved their Global Innovation Index rank between 2021 and 2022, indicating increased innovation capacity and output. The United Arab Emirates led the region in innovation, while Qatar made the most progress in the region. Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Algeria also improved their scores. However, Tunisia and Oman decreased in the rankings between 2021 and 2022.

Each country’s final ranking is based on the combination of seven different innovation pillars. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa saw mixed results on each innovation pillar, indicating opportunities for improvement in the region.

Other Highlights of the Global Innovation Index

Intellectual property (IP) filing activity rose during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. International trademark filings, good indicators of entrepreneurship and innovation, saw strong growth in 2021, up by 15%.

Technology adoption is also progressing. Innovation is especially impactful when it leads to new goods and products that can enhance peoples’ lives. WIPO’s report highlights positive growth in the rates of adoption of electric vehicles, global broadband penetration and the use of industrial robots and automation.

The Global Innovation Index 2022 highlights how research and development continued, and even increased, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries in the Middle East and North Africa can see even more growth with the right policies that prioritize innovation and protect intellectual property.

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