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Technology

South Korea cracks world's top 5 innovators while China edges Japan

Turkey, Vietnam, India and the Philippines can change landscape for good: WIPO

An ice carving robot at a bar in Seoul: South Korea was the highest-ranking Asian country in the World Intellectual Property Organization's Global Innovation Index this year.   © Reuters

PARIS/NEW YORK -- South Korea has placed among the top five technological innovators for the first time, according to the latest global ranking, as other Asian economic powers moved up the hierarchy.

South Korea jumped from 10th place to fifth in this year's Global Innovation Index, the World Intellectual Property Organization reported Monday. The East Asian country was bested only by Switzerland, Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K.

The WIPO rankings grade 132 economies based on multiple categories. Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore stood in eighth place, unchanged from last year, while China rose two ranks to 12th.

Japan climbed to 13th place from 16th, propelled by regulatory improvements that help encourage innovation. Still, the country earned low marks on online creativity, which includes fields like mobile apps, and on tertiary education.

Research and development efforts have remained strong globally despite the coronavirus, according to the report. Patent filings through WIPO increased 3.5% in 2020 to a record high, largely driven by medical technology, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Asian countries to make it into the top 50 club include Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam and India. Turkey, Vietnam, India and the Philippines in particular have been making significant progress.

The latter four countries "have the potential to change the global innovation landscape for good," according to the WIPO report.

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