Creating an "Innovation 8"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last week we met with Nicolas Shea, the personal assistant to Chile’s Minister of Economy. He’d just returned from a trip to Israel to learn about the programs Israel sponsored to increase innovation and bring some of those lessons back to Chile. One idea he was thinking about when he came back was creating an “I8,” playing on the idea of the G8. The “I8” would include eight countries focused on encouraging innovation in their country. I8 forums would offer an opportunity to exchange best practices and find ways to work together -- they would foster and expand their countries’ innovative capacity in the same way that the G8 meets to discuss issues of broad mutual concern.

A draft list of the I8:

  • Chile
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Singapore
  • Finland
  • Slovenia
  • New Zealand
  • Someone from Africa -- Kenya, Rawanda, South Africa?
It seems like a good list of countries that are aspirationally innovative (even if they’re not the top 8 today). We decided to do some research and see if we could come up with a good answer for the eighth country. My friend Albert suggested that the African entry should be Kenya or Rawanda, based on their low corruption, high education, and stated goals around innovation (for instance, Kenya’s Vision 2030 plan)

In the process of discussing this, Albert taught me about innovation measure like INSEAD's Global Innovation Index (GII) (pdf) and the World Economic Forum ranking on global competitiveness (pdf), which can be used as a proxy for business sophistication. It’s interesting that there’s a gap between developed business infrastructure & innovation readiness. For instance, Italy has highly developed business infrastructure, but deep issues that hold back innovation while somewhere like Kenya has less business infrastructure but does a relatively good job of encouraging new companies.

I like the idea of an Innovation 8. I hope it becomes a reality.


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