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INNOVATION

Sweden named world’s third most innovative country

Sweden has slipped slightly but remains one of the most innovative nations in the world, according to a new international survey.

Sweden named world's third most innovative country
Photo: Depositphotos
The 2018 Global Innovation Index (GII), released on Wednesday, ranked Sweden as the third most innovative country behind only Switzerland and the Netherlands. Sweden dropped one spot from last year’s index, swapping positions with the Netherlands. 
 
Compiled by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Cornell University and France's INSEAD business school, the innovation study is described as a “detailed quantitative tool that helps global decision makers better understand how to stimulate the innovative activity that drives economic and human development”. 
 
It looks at over 80 indicators ranging from rule of law (where Sweden took first place), patent applications (also first) to knowledge and technology outputs (third place) and even Wikipedia edits (third place).  
 
Sweden jumped up five spots to sixth in the overall category of ‘creative outputs’ and saw a marked improvement in the sub-category of ‘ecologofical sustainability’, where it moved up from 20th to 12th.
 
Although Sweden was once again singled out as one of the world’s most innovative countries, the GII also pointed to weaknesses including its pupil to teacher ratio in secondary schools, purchasing power, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows and productivity growth. 
 
Seven of the top ten and 15 of the top 25 countries in the 2018 GII were in Europe. 
 
“The EU as a whole is clearly an important force for innovation, in particular if one considers the EU-wide efforts on education, the R&D expenditure of the region, and the combined IP filings or its output in the area of total high-tech manufacturing,” the report read. 
 
Rounding out the overall top ten behind Sweden were the United Kingdom, Singapore, the United States, Finland, Denmark, Germany and Israel. At the bottom of the 126-country ranking was Yemen. 

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BUSINESS

Forbes: Sweden is the best. Swedish business: No it’s not

Sweden is the best country in the world in which to do business, according to a new ranking by US magazine Forbes. But Sweden's main business lobby says the country's success is overstated.

Forbes: Sweden is the best. Swedish business: No it's not
Spotify founder Daniel Ek speaks to the Stockholm Tech Fest. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

The business magazine heaps praise on Sweden, which it says has “undergone a transformation built  on deregulation and budget self-restraint”.

Forbes credits the former centre-right government's benefit cuts and tax cuts with stimulating employment, it points to the country's growth rate of 4.2 percent in 2015, its low level of public debt and its trade surplus. It also mentioned the country's burgeoning startup scene, with music streaming service Spotify and gaming company King cited as good examples.

While Sweden has shot up Forbes' list from 17th place in 2006, the US has slid from the number one ranking a decade ago to 23rd place today.

But Sweden's main business organization, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, poured cold water on the claims.

“There are plenty of advantages to running a business in Sweden, but it feels like an exaggeration to say that it's the best country overall,” the confederation's economist Jonas Frycklund told Dagens Nyheter. “It's hard for an outsider to get the whole picture,” he said.

Frycklund said that Forbes focused on large companies, whereas it was difficult for small companies in Sweden to grow. Sweden, he added, was living on the fruits of reforms from the 1990s and early 2000s, but that the country needed further reforms to maintain its position. Asked for other countries that he admired, he pointed to Switzerland's competitive industries and Singapore's focus on deregulation and free trade.

Sweden was named the world's sixth most competitive economy by the World Economic Forum earlier this year.