Old pros stay on top while newcomers work their way up in the competitive world of biotechnology
The United States and Denmark, finishing first and second on this year’s Scorecard, clinch a three-year run of leading our overall results in that order. In fact, four of the five top countries—the two leaders plus Finland and Singapore—also placed in last year’s top five. Only third-place finisher Switzerland is new to the top five.
While reviewing the overall Scorecard, keep in mind that it is the product of a collection of averages and totals. As a quick summary: Each country received a score in six categories—IP, Intensity, Enterprise Support, Education/Workforce, Foundations, and Policy and Stability—that each contained a set of components. Based on 0–10 scores, for lowest to highest, we averaged the component scores to determine the category score. The overall innovation score represents a simple sum of the category averages, indexed to a score from 0–50. The normalization involved in calculating the category and overall scores considers each component and each category on equal weighting. In short, this Scorecard gives equal importance to a business friendly environment, public biotechnology companies per capita, PhD graduates in life sciences per capita and every other component of the categories. In addition, any gaps in the individual components were ignored in calculating the averages for each category.
Beyond the top of the overall Scorecard, many other factors deserve attention. For instance, the United Kingdom slipped into this year’s top ten. To accommodate that U.K. climb, Ireland slipped from eighth in 2012 to 11th this year. Even more than the United Kingdom, the Netherlands really shot up the chart this year, moving from 17th in 2012 to 12th on this year’s Scorecard. In addition, the United Arab Emirates—a newcomer to the list—placed 40th, just behind China and right in front of Russia. The UAE also earns the honor of being the top Gulf state on the list, ahead of Qatar at 42nd, Saudi Arabia at 45th and Kuwait at 53rd.
Although we print the list of top-to-bottom overall finishers, we urge you to explore the trees in this forest. A country’s place on the overall Scorecard does not necessarily reflect its capabilities in every way. Despite winning in the overall score, the United States took the top spot in only two categories, IP and Enterprise Support. Denmark won for Intensity, Iceland led the way for Education/Workforce, and Finland continues its dominance in Foundations, also topping the chart in Policy and Stability. Also notice that Thailand and Saudi Arabia score highly in Education/Workforce. This reflects the strong desire of their students to return home following foreign doctoral studies. Other countries, such as Austria, can focus on their strength in Foundations and Policy and Stability, while directing attention to filling areas of relative weakness, such as Education/Workforce and Enterprise Support. Even countries at the top of the overall list still need work. For example, the United States continues to place poorly in Policy and Stability.
Each year, the global competition reflected in the Scientific American Worldview Scorecard grows more fierce. The list of countries it documents continually expands. Some of the new countries, such as the UAE and Qatar, may push others toward the bottom. Indeed, volatility is seen throughout the Scorecard, as some countries rise to the top and others tumble toward the bottom. How did your country score this year? What can it do to move up on next year’s Scorecard? While basketball lovers want to “be like Mike”—the iconic line about Michael Jordan that emerged from a 1990s Gatorade commercial and soared to everyday usage—countries aspiring to succeed in biotechnology want to be like Finland, and you will see why in just a few pages.
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