Innovation is perhaps the biggest driver of change and progress today, that key ingredient that separates the best businesses - and countries - from the rest. Small business owners in Australia will therefore be thrilled to hear that a global index has recently ranked the country as one of the most innovative in the world today.
The Global Innovation Index (GII), jointly published every year by Cornell University, INSEAD and the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation, regularly assesses the "innovation capabilities and results" of economies around the globe. In the 2014 edition of the index, the seventh in its history, Australia was ranked 17th out of 143 countries - achieving its highest ever placing. Last year it came 19th, with its ranking in 2012 further back at 23rd.
Making this year's edition of the index even more pertinent for Australian businesses, the index was launched in Sydney on July 18. This was to tie in with the G20 summit being held later this year, which will also be hosted Down Under.
Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, who launched this year's index, said the results "[shine] a light on the creativity, inventiveness, business capability and innovative spirit of Australians". However, he urged business owners not to rest on their laurels and to constantly seek improvement.
"The challenge now is for Australia to make further gains by building on our areas of competitive strength," he asserted.
"We have a strong base to work from, with Australia recording a solid global performance, coming fourth overall in our region and sitting among the world's top ten economies with enabling conditions for innovation activity."
Switzerland was ranked number one this year, followed by the United Kingdom and Sweden. In fact, the entire top five - and seven of the top 10 - were European countries. Australia certainly has the potential to be up there with the best in future, and some of the responsibility will fall on small businesses and startups to drive innovation with fresh ideas.
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