To improve Australia's global innovation ranking we must edit more Wikipedia articles

Publishing more YouTube videos would also help.

Graph for To improve Australia's global innovation ranking we must edit more Wikipedia articles

Turns out re-writing history can be constructive. Image: Wikipedia

How do you define and measure a buzzword? That’s the question at the heart of the annual Global Innovation Index. 

Since its inception in 2007, the index has ranked economies around the globe on their innovative prowess. Australia climbed two spots in the latest ranking and is now considered the 17th best country in the world for innovative behaviour. The climb in our own innovation rating is great, but what’s truly fascinating is not the result itself, but how it’s calculated.

Most of the 81 indicators used to rank countries are straightforward. For instance, the index measures how easy it is to start a business or a country’s political stability. However, some of the other metrics used are just plain odd.  Here are a couple of examples. With each graph, we have ranked the top five countries and Australia. 

How many Wikipedia articles a country edits

The number of videos a country uploads to YouTube

The number of hardcopy newspapers and books published

The amount of electricity a country is producing

The number of local feature films produced

That’s not all. The report mentions its authors are investigating even more obscure ways of measuring innovation, such as looking at the total number of blog posts published by a country or measuring a population's online gaming presence.

Business Spectator reached out to the institution spearheading the report, Cornell University, for comment on why it has used these metrics. We’re yet to receive a response.

Despite the unusual metrics, the report is regarded as the best global indicator on innovation. The dean of UTS Business School Roy Green commended the study for its scope and its ability to measure both innovative input (R&D) as well as output (the application of that R&D in business) across a vast number of countries. 

He says that the individual categories appear unusual in isolation, but when considered in the context of the entire study, they work well to paint a picture of a country’s 'innovation ecosystem'.

As for defining this buzzword, Green offers a rather simple explanation: “ideas that can be converted into value”.  He says that while the boost in our ranking is good news, Australia still struggles on the second half of that definition as we are failing to capitalise on our research. 

Got a question? Let us know in the comments below or contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter.

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