INNOVATION

Hong Kong slips to new low in innovation rankings

Global survey finds city is fourth in Asia behind Singapore, South Korea and Japan, and fares particularly badly in education and value from patents and exports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 7:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 June, 2017, 11:14pm

Hong Kong has slipped for the fourth year in a row in a global benchmark of innovation, ranking 16th globally – its lowest ever position.

The city, which now falls behind regional competitors Singapore, South Korea and Japan, experienced a significant drop in education performance, while research and development continued to be one of the weakest areas.

Now into its 10th edition, the Global Innovation Index is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD business school and the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organisation.

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It studies five input factors – governmental institutions, human capital, infrastructure, market sophistication and business sophistication – as well as two output factors – knowledge and creativity.

The city, which ranked seventh in the world in 2013, fared well in the input sub-index – ranking eighth in the world – fuelled by strong ­performances in institutions, ­infrastructure and market sophistication.

IT sector legislator Charles Mok said there were no surprises in these categories, which he said were considered long-running strengths.

“The problem is these strengths only served to slow down Hong Kong’s decline, rather than helping the city remain competitive ... Too many problems now hinder [Hong Kong’s] development, yet the government doesn’t – or pretends not to – realise the severity of the situation,” he said.

Singapore was ranked seventh in the latest survey, South Korea 11th and Japan 14th. Mainland China, meanwhile, climbed three places to 22nd.

One of Hong Kong’s weaknesses was education, coming in at 73rd out of 127 economies. Expenditure in this area was even worse – at 95th.

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Other lacklustre areas included value generated by patents, high-tech exports and creative goods exports.

Mok said he could not tell whether the index represented a comprehensive picture, but the continuous fall was enough of a warning for the government to get its act right.

“The government loves to gauge things with figures and funding schemes ... The biggest issue is not even money, but whether there are proper policies and laws to facilitate long-term growth,” he said.

“Innovation and technology is not a numbers game. It’s about nurturing talent and ensuring people have a sustainable career path.”