By Adebola Daramola
How timely. The INSEAD Global Innovation Index (GII) 2011 was released just as we have new ministers appointed to work with Mr President on his transformation agenda. I expect them to take time just as other leaders in every sphere of the economy to review and assess the report. So invaluable, they will find it useful in creating the desired competitiveness which we seek to achieve with our 20:2020 goals.
This is not another report or rankings: Transparency International (GlobalCorruption Index), World Bank (Doing Business) and UNDP (Human Development Index) as we have become used to, GII is created to facilitate dialogue among the leadership in business, governments, society and other stakeholders. It is a collaborative effort led by INSEAD with other knowledge partners since 2007 in measuring innovation beyond the traditional yardsticks of number of PhDs, research articles produced, research centers created, patent issues and R&D expenditure. It attempts to measure all forms of innovation not limited to the high-tech coming from the developed nations ( it recognizes emerging economies kind of innovation, sometimes taking names such as reverse , gandhian, frugal ,inclusive, constraint-based etc), with an admittance of the expansive and evolving nature of the subject.
Not to be left out, Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST) has revised her Science and Technology (S&T) Policy earlier in the year to a Science, Technology and Innovation(S, T&I) Policy, with a commitment to foster collaboration between industries, enterprises, governments and scientific community. The change to a STI policy was an acknowledgement of Innovation as a critical driver of growth to all stakeholders in our economic ecosystem. Yes, we hope through this policy amendment when passed to law by the legislative, we would be close to establishing the framework to a closer links between academic, industry and government for economic growth and competitiveness.
The GII 2011 evaluated the efforts by 125 countries in providing enabling environment that promotes innovation. The lesson in this report for us as a nation and leaders in every sphere of life is to appreciate our level of investments in human, finance and time over the years in fostering next generation of innovators or entrepreneurs. Our adoption of new process, marketing method, organizational/ business model, productivity improvements, new product release, with no restriction to technological breakthroughs, with an inclusion of public sector and social innovation, all qualifies as innovation.
If developed nations like USA president will be committed to encouraging Innovation as expounded in his Jan 25, 2011 state of the union message that “the first step in winning the future is encouraging America innovation”, why not take the challenge home with us, in steering a national discourse as the INSEAD Global Innovation Index seek to achieve.
The GII as a benchmarking tool is computed as an average of the scores across inputs pillars (that is, the enabling environment for innovation) and the output pillars (measures the actual achievements in innovation). The inputs pillars have 5 sub-indexes: Institutions, Human Capital and Research, Infrastructure, Market sophistication and Business sophistication, whereas, the output pillars is made up of 2 sub-indexes: ‘scientific outputs’ and ‘creative outputs’.
For a second year running, Nigeria came 96th amongst the total economies covered in the two subsequent years 2009-10 and 2011 respectively, with 132 countries in the former compared with 125 countries in the latter. Nigeria, as a nation came 2nd within the top 10 in terms of Innovation efficiency index, this measure is the ratio of the Output Sub-Index (the average of the two output pillars) and the Input Sub-Index (the average of the five input pillars). It explains how well we have utilized our enabling environment in stimulating innovative results.
Evidently, our stellar performance in the film industry is recognized by all, as ingenious, with a ranking of 5th in the GII 2011, which is the first time of inclusion in the creative outputs. Is it the business model/ strategy or the low cost finance that drives Nollywood, all has been assessed and rightly fits as a form of innovation common to emerging economies: constraint –based innovation. Among the 24 countries assessed within Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria was recognized as a regional leader on the GII, the output , input and efficiency measures alongside with Mauritius, South Africa and Côte d’ Ivoire. Remarkably, Nigeria obtained the top regional position on the output sub-index with 62nd and also a relatively high score from the survey questions on ICT use on business and organizational models (45th and 70th respectively).
Innovation is a global phenomenon not limited to the developed countries, innovators can be found across the world. What we need is the proper understanding of the concepts and underlying premises of innovation by our leadership in government, business, education and society, this will go a long way in fostering and encouraging a new breed of generations that appreciates knowledge above natural resources.
As our new ministers settle in, I charge them as well as every other leader in our economic system to work together at ensuring our institutions are strengthen (through improve regulatory environment, enhanced environment for business, credit, investment, trade and competition), fostering an improvement in our educational system through funding and establishment of linkage with industry for flows of knowledge and execution of R&D projects and lastly, take on their role as an innovator.