Prepared by: Ivana Ivanova

Recently, the 13th edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII) was published amidst the Covid-19 crisis. Taking into account the current  economic situation and the fact that venture capitals are declining across North America, Asia and Europe, innovation is thought to be the best way for humanity to cope with the economic lockdown.  However, investment rates are low, including foreign direct investment, and they are expected to drop even more in 2020 and 2021.

Europe remains the second most innovative region, right after the US, as it hosts 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. Seven of them climbed up the ranks, from which three are Balkan countries: Bulgaria (37th, up by 3), Croatia (41st, up by 3) and Romania (46th, up by 4). Six economies rank below the top 50, with four of them increasing their ranks this year, three of them being Balkan countries: Serbia (53rd), North Macedonia (57th) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (74th). 

 Since 2016, Bulgaria (37th) has held its position in the upper middle-income group with outputs comparable to high-income economies, like Norway and Australia.

Interestingly enough, Serbia (53rd) and North Macedonia (57th) have moved in this group as well.

These three countries are all in the section of “above expectations for level of development” placing them as innovation achievers. In total years as an innovation achiever, Bulgaria has 4 years, Serbia 3 years and North Macedonia 2 years.  Bosna and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Romania, although being part of the same income group, are all in the section of “in line with level of development”. Montenegro however, at the same time holds the record of consecutive 6 years as an innovation achiever.
Nonetheless, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece are in the high-income group, part of the section “in line with level of development”.

The GII produces relative index scores, which means that a missing value for one economy affects the index score of other economies. Because the number of missing values decreases every year, this problem reduces over time.

GII Balkan economies with the fewest missing values: Romania (1), Bulgaria (2), Greece (2), Serbia and Slovenia (3 each), and Croatia (5).

Overall as a summary index, North Macedonia is ranked 57th in the GII 2020 rankings. . Slovenia is 32nd, Bulgaria - 37th, Croatia - 41st, Greece - 43rd, Romania - 46th, Montenegro – 49th, Serbia - 53rd, Bosna and Herzegovina - 74th, Albania – 83rd.

In the market sophistication sub-index, North Macedonia is ranked 17th (entering the fourth quartile – best performers (1st to 32nd place)) placing it before every other Balkan country: Bulgaria (97th), Serbia (101st), Croatia (73rd), Greece (75th), Slovenia (77th), Romania (83rd), Montenegro (61st), Bosna and Herzegovina (51st) and Albania (70th). Unfortunately, in other sub-indexes such as Business sophistication, Creative outputs and Human capital and research, Noeth Macedonia is ranked in the second quartile – (ranking from 66th to 98th), and still lagging behind the other Balkan countries excluding Albania and Bosna and Herzegovina. In the sub-index of Institutions, Infrastructure and Knowledge and Technology Outputs, it is in the third quartile (from 33rd to 65th) in front of Greece (only in the field of Institutions), Bosna and Herzegovina and Albania, and not so far behind the other Balkan countries.

Looking at the Input Sub-index and the Output Sub-index, North Macedonia is ranked 46th in the Input and 63rd in the Output. The other Balkan countries are ranked as it follows:
Slovenia (29; 39), Greece (40; 52), Croatia (44; 43), Bulgaria (45; 30), Romania (51; 46), Montenegro (53; 49), Serbia (58; 56), Bosnia and Herzegovina (72; 75) and Albania (74; 91).