Pakistan among least innovative countries in the world, report says

Published: September 8, 2016
The GII survey is an annual ranking of the world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. PHOTO: REUTERS

The GII survey is an annual ranking of the world economies’ innovation capabilities and results. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pakistan is among the least innovative countries in the world, a report released last month has revealed.

According to the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2016, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Pakistan ranked 119 of 128 countries surveyed. Switzerland has topped the list for the sixth time in a row.

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The GII survey is an annual ranking of the innovation capabilities and results of world economies. It uses 81 indicators across a range of themes such as the innovation output sub index, innovation efficiency ratio, political environment, regulatory environment, and business environment.

Although the country’s ranking improved from 131 in 2015 to 119 this year, the number of countries included in the survey also decreased from 141 last year to 128 in 2016. Meanwhile, the country’s overall score fell slightly from 23.07 in 2015 to of 22.63 this year.

Pakistan hits bottom in innovation ranking

While Pakistan slipped to the lowest spot in the region, India maintained its top place in the region, moving up 15 spots from 81 last year to 66 in 2016. Nepal, which was the only South Asian country ranked lower than Pakistan last year, also rose 20 spots to end up four ranks above Pakistan at 115.

Earlier in February, the Ministry of Science and Technology stated in a written reply to the National Assembly (NA) that less than two per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was being spent on research and development. The reply further stated that this along with low standards of science education across the nation’s educational institutions were the prime reasons behind Pakistan being ranked 131 of 141 countries in GII 2015.


“Historically, allocations for research and development expenditure have always remained low,” the reply stated, adding that the current allocation was only 0.29 per cent of GDP, far below the world average as most developed countries spend between 2–4% of their GDP on research. A total number of 60,699 researchers are working in Pakistan with only 10,670 PhDs which “is very low as compared to developed countries”, the reply stated.

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Similarly, the ministry reply also stated that the low standard of science education in schools and colleges was due to a lack of laboratory facilities, competent science teachers and “very low investment by the private sector in research and development.”

Global rankings

This year, China moved four spots up to join the ranks of the world’s 25 most-innovative economies. Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Finland and Singapore lead the 2016 rankings. China’s top-25 entry marks the first time a middle-income country has joined highly developed economies that have historically dominated the the index.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Haji Atiya
    Sep 8, 2016 - 2:05PM

    This report is defining “innovate” in the traditional sense, which doesn’t apply to Pakistan. We tend to innovate in the negative sense. In any case, why innovate, when one can realize comparatively fast payback on buying and selling properties here !Recommend

  • Amir
    Sep 8, 2016 - 3:12PM

    When we have a culture of copy and pasting in everything, when our PHD professors and teachers plagiarizes their thesis, when science and technology is low on the totem pole, when it becomes difficult for companies to invest due to unrealistic taxes, graft in the burecracy who wants their palms greased, and when lack of infra structure and security forces companies to leave pakistan, 119 is still highRecommend

  • Mohammed Wani
    Sep 8, 2016 - 3:49PM

    Chanting “Kashmir” all the time is what Pakistan can do at best.Recommend

  • Sunil
    Sep 8, 2016 - 5:06PM

    LOL .. is all I have to say.Recommend

  • Haroon
    Sep 8, 2016 - 8:29PM

    we shouldn’t rule out the phenomenon of brain drain from Southeast and South Asia and this brain drain is actually the reason for higher rankings west dominant tally vis-a-vis innovativeness Recommend

  • Chris
    Sep 8, 2016 - 8:29PM

    In general Muslims are brain dead , so what better can one expect from a brain dead country. What makes me laugh is the fact, that Pakistan even shows that she is bothered by this report.
    Well, y’all can counter claim this report, you all can say that you all always innovate news ways to break law, illegall entry, misogyny and of course kill innocents. That’s innovation too.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Sep 8, 2016 - 8:38PM

    Bhai, what is this talk about innovation in a country that takes pride in its military and nuclear weapons. No one need advise Pakistan, because it knows where to spend its money.Recommend

  • khan ahmed
    Sep 8, 2016 - 9:55PM

    I don’t understand the criteria for giving rankings. Creating TTP, LET, LEJ, JUD, Nawaz, Imran, Zardari is not innovation then what is real innovation? Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Sep 8, 2016 - 10:24PM

    @Mohammed Wani:

    shooting innocent unarmed civilains in the eye is what indians do best. Recommend

  • hamza khan
    Sep 8, 2016 - 10:25PM


    coming from a westerner thats rich. your entire history is replete with the examples you are now pointing out to us. get your head out of your behind. Recommend

  • HZR
    Sep 8, 2016 - 10:39PM

    @Haji Atiya:
    Taking it up further,why innovate when all that is to be known is in the BOOKRecommend

  • HZR
    Sep 8, 2016 - 10:40PM

    @Mohammed Wani:
    That is in a way innovation and being creative!Recommend

  • Mohammed Sattar
    Sep 8, 2016 - 10:43PM

    I agree with some of what you say but I cannot agree with you saying that Pakistanis kill more innocent people then the west. Just look at the last 50 years and you will see that your analysis is totally wrong and biased. Recommend

  • Sad but True
    Sep 8, 2016 - 11:03PM

    Sad but true. Wasted seven decades.Recommend

  • AK
    Sep 9, 2016 - 6:56AM

    No labs in schools, colleges or even in Universities. Even those called “well educated” doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of lab work in science education. There should be a survey of labs in different science education establishments at all levels. Physics, Chemistry, Biology without labs cannot be imagined. No practical work, No experiments, No science. Today the students are not taught even the simplest possible experiments. University undergraduates haven’t seen or used any lab equipment during the entire duration of their degrees or education. There is no minimum level whenever any educational establishment is allowed to open a science department.
    All the science institutions should be bound to provide lab facilities and trained personals equivalent to some established international standard before starting any program. e.g., a chemistry program should not be allowed to start if they don’t have lab and class room facilities equivalent to what is required to fulfill the criterion set by American Chemical Society for accreditation of Undergraduate or Post-graduate degree in Chemistry and so on.
    Similarly, teaching and teaching labs should be the first thing so that a very strong basic education background is provided. Teaching and teaching laboratories cannot be compromised at any cost.Recommend

  • Omar Chaudry
    Sep 9, 2016 - 7:47AM

    I strongly disagree with this. The authors in this report at Cornell University are making a HUGE assumption that “number of patents registered” is the same as “innovation”. They are assuming that intellectual property rights are the same in every country as in America. Pakistan’s law enforcement struggles to protect human life and physical property, how can anybody hope to protect intellectual property (IP) in Pakistan? Of course nobody in Pakistan is going to register patents, because it provides no protection. People can simply copy ideas without consequences. In my opinion Pakistani’s are innovating great new solutions every day. If we wanted to move up the rankings in this report, we just need better protection of IP in Pakistan. But that does NOT mean we are not innovative.The same applies to all third-world countries. You can see the top of the list has a lot of European countries, many of whom have actually been stagnating lately and struggling to compete with US and China. This report is flawed.Recommend

  • Arsha
    Sep 9, 2016 - 11:48AM

    @Omar Chaudry:
    That’s burying your head in the sand. You say Pakistanis are innovating every day… Then where is that great technology or research or business model that originated from Pakistanis?
    Where is the culture of innovation…is it promoted in schools or universities? How much of the GDP is appropriated to R&D? IP protection comes after innovation has happened. The IP protection issues exists in every country especially in Asia and still you see some of those countries rising steadily up the ladder. Recommend

  • Indian
    Sep 9, 2016 - 1:55PM

    Mean while india had tested its fourth cryogenic rocket and placed a 2.5 ton settelite in orbitRecommend

  • Sayan Chakraborty
    Sep 9, 2016 - 3:53PM

    When it comes to terrorism, no country can match the innovative capacity of pakistan. They will always be right on top of the list followed by afghanistan, somalia, chad etc.Recommend

  • Rahul
    Sep 9, 2016 - 4:45PM

    @Sayan Chakraborty:
    Well saidRecommend

  • curious2
    Sep 9, 2016 - 5:30PM

    Govt controlled economies and “innovation” are contrary ideas – top 20 on this list constitute the vast majority of innovation on this planet and they are all Free Market economies. Ain’t coincidence. Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav
    Sep 9, 2016 - 6:02PM

    This is not fair. Pakistanis have been innovative. Who can forget the innovative idea of online degree fraud AXACT or that Water Car Kit engineer Aga Waqar Khan??? Recommend

  • Ramdar
    Sep 9, 2016 - 8:51PM

    @hamza khan:
    What a innovative definition of innocent unarmed civilians who attack with stones in big numbers without provocation on a small group of security personnel on duty.Recommend

  • Athiest
    Sep 9, 2016 - 11:52PM

    Isn’t innovation against Islam? Recommend

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