A lecturer checks on her students' research project of an automatic bottling system at a university lab in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach
Much to the surprise, and delight, of almost everyone, Vietnam has not only improved its performance on the global innovation index this year, but outperformed nearly two thirds of other economies.
Out of 141 economies around the world, Vietnam was ranked at 52, up 19 places from last year, according to the latest report co-published by the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization, New York-based Cornell University, and France's business school INSEAD.
The annual index measured an economy's innovative capabilities and measurable results, using 79 indicators related to a variety of sectors such as education, business, infrastructure, and information and communications technology.
Scoring 38.85 out of 100, Vietnam was the second top innovator within the lower-middle income group that consisted of 34 economies, after the Republic of Moldova.
However, its position was still far lower than some of other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which were ranked 7 and 31 and 7, respectively.
Switzerland, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the US were the world's top innovative economies.
Vietnam's performance has been consistently high in infrastructure, knowledge and technology outputs, and creative outputs, according to the report.
It also praised the country for its efforts to develop its national innovation system by improving its regulatory framework and engaging in institution building.
Thanks to its integration in global trade via global value chains and the attraction of foreign direct investment, Vietnam performed well, when it came to business sophistication which was showed through factors such as knowledge absorption, the report said.
However, Vietnam's performance was still weak in improving its political environment, regulatory environment, and business environment, besides research and development activities, it said.
Vietnam is also facing hurdles in investment environment, and trade and competition, it added.