Bulgaria Ranks 3rd in the Upper Middle-Income Group of the Global Innovation Index 2020

19 September, 2020


Bulgaria ranks 3rd and above expectations for level of development in the upper middle-income group of the Global Innovation Index (GII) by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Our country ranks 37th in the overall ranking. 

China, Malaysia, and Bulgaria are still the only middle-income economies in the GII top 40; otherwise, the gap across income groups and regions largely perseveres. In the upper-middle income group, China (14th), Malaysia (33rd, up from 35th), and Bulgaria (37th, up from 40th) had held the top three positions since 2016. Aside from China, Malaysia and Bulgaria remain the only other middle-income economies that are close to the top 25. In addition to these three economies, there are only seven other middle-income economies in the top 50 of the GII 2020. 

The Global Innovation Index 2020 provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 131 countries and economies around the world. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, infrastructure and business sophistication. The 2020 edition sheds light on the state of innovation financing by investigating the evolution of financing mechanisms for entrepreneurs and other innovators, and by pointing to progress and remaining challenges – including in the context of the economic slowdown induced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.

The report shows the catching-up of some middle-income economies to the high-income group with respect to the levels of innovation outputs produced. China stands out for having innovation outputs that are comparable to those of the high-income group, including top 10 economies such as the Netherlands, the U.K., and the U.S. Malaysia and Bulgaria are middle-income economies that have outputs comparable to high-income economies like Norway and Australia.

Europe continues to host a large number of innovative economies. Sixteen of the innovation leaders in the top 25 are European countries, with seven of them ranking in the top 10. The Czech Republic rejoins the top 25 this year. Seventeen economies rank in the top 50. Seven of them climb up the ranks: Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia, Ukraine and Romania. 


New findings for the GII 2020

The COVID-19 crisis hit the innovation landscape at a time when innovation was flourishing. In 2018, research and development (R&D) spending grew by 5.2%, i.e., significantly faster than global gross domestic product (GDP) growth, after rebounding strongly from the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Venture capital (VC) and the use of intellectual property (IP) were at an all-time high.

In the context of the GII 2020 theme ‘Who Will Finance Innovation?’, one of the GII findings is that the money to fund innovative ventures is drying up. VC deals are in sharp decline across North America, Asia, and Europe. The impact of this shortage in innovation finance will be uneven, with the negative effects felt more heavily by early-stage VCs, by R&D-intensive start-ups, and in countries that are not typically VC hotspots.

While the impacts of the pandemic on the science and innovation systems will take time to unfold, there are positive signs of increased international collaboration in science. At the same time, there are concerns of major research projects being disrupted and international closure in the pursuit of innovation.

The COVID-19 crisis has already catalyzed innovation in many new and traditional sectors, such as health, education, tourism and retail.