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New Zealand, Australia and South Korea stand out in APAC on index measuring capacity for social innovation, US tops the Index

October 13, 2016 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

A new report released today (September 29th) by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) finds the top ten countries with the most capacity for social innovation are mainly rich Western nations: aside from the US (1st), Canada (3rd) and New Zealand (6th), all others are wealthy European nations. Saudi Arabia(43rd), Paraguay(44th) and the Philippines(45th) occupy the bottom three positions in the index.

The Social Innovation Index 2016, sponsored by Nippon Foundation, is a ranking of 45 countries in the environment that enables social innovation. The index is a first-of-its kind in content and scale and sheds light on some of the common characteristics of social innovation seen around the world. It finds that much work remains to be done to enable social innovation efforts to flourish.

Aside from New Zealand (6th) and Australia (11th), South Korea (12th) stand out in the Asia-Pacific region, a long way ahead ofJapan (23rd). Though it lacks a national social innovation strategy, the city of Seoul is leading social innovation with several initiatives such as open data and open communication: the city discloses 90% of public data.

Malaysia (24th) is top of the middle income group of countries – its National Innovation Agency is supportive of entrepreneurship and empowers people at the local level to address social problems. While China (38th) scores second from last, and sits at the bottom in the civil society pillar. India (34th) is second only to Kenya (27th) in the low-income group of countries.

Top ranking countries in the Index tend to have high per-capita income and human development indicators as well as stable democratic governance, and institutional and policy support for social innovation were given a relatively heavy weighting in the Index.

Many experts see policies around data transparency as one of the main building blocks for social innovation, particularly in the delivery of social services at the community level. The EIU awarded only nine countries the top score in the indicator that measures whether governments collect and publish relevant data and research the impact of and need for social innovation.

Legal frameworks that underpin social innovation are complex but one of the most important aspects is whether a country has a legal framework for social enterprises. To date only seven countries in the Index have such frameworks in place. Legal protection and regulation is necessary to bring social enterprises to the attention of policymakers and the public, clearing ambiguities around their status, which can sometimes have financial consequences.

Naka Kondo, editor of the report, said:

“Policymakers, non-government organisations, charities and entrepreneurs across the world are showing increasing interest in ‘social innovation’ as a means of addressing various problems from poverty and homelessness to environmental degradation. For social innovation to really gain traction there must be data proving its impact and this data must be freely available. This would help secure further support from governments, businesses, donors and investors. At the moment efforts to collect such data are lacking in most countries.”

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