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South Korea climbs to the top

After a four-year reign at the head of the Foundations category, Finland slips to second—edged out by South Korea. In 2015, South Korea finished a close second in this metric, and was in third place in 2014. So, step by step, South Korea’s steady progress in this area has led it to the top.

When it comes to building an international reputation as a nurturing home for innovative biotechnology, the factors measured in Foundations play a key role. Reflected here are important issues, like the quality of a nation’s infrastructure—roads and ports and so on. No firm wants to do business in a country where these elements are subpar. The category also considers the percentage of business and government spending that goes to R&D, which indicates the financial foundation of the industry. We include numbers on R&D spending in addition to fundamental metrics, such as infrastructure quality, because R&D can plant the seeds for future growth. Many interesting opportunities present themselves in the course of research, so it is reasonable to expect that a greater R&D spend will give rise to more opportunities.

Our data for this category are drawn from four areas. We used figures from the OECD to calculate “business R&D expenditures per GDP.” Our “gross expenditures on R&D per GDP” metric was drawn from UNESCO data. For information on “infrastructure quality,” we turned to the World Economic Forum (Schwab, K. The Global Competitiveness Report, 2015–2016. World Economic Forum (2015)), which uses an international survey to produce its index. Last, we derived the component “innovation and entrepreneurship opportunity” from the 2015 Legatum Prosperity Index. Countries with a strong showing in this last metric tend to encourage researchers to spin off ventures to pursue these opportunities.