S’pore Is World’s 2nd-Most Innovative Country, As We’re Good In Pushing People To Get Degrees

Singapore Is 2nd-Most Innovative Country In The World, According to Bloomberg Index

As Singapore’s a small country with no natural resources, we’ve always had to work extra hard to survive.

Part of our success so far lies in our ability to constantly come up with new ways of doing things, rather than sticking to established methods.

That’s the reason why we’ve been named the No. 2 most innovative country in the world, 2nd only to South Korea.

One of the factors for our lofty position is our education system, which is good at pushing people to get degrees.

Ranking given by Bloomberg Innovation Index

The honour was conferred on us by this year’s Bloomberg Innovation Index.

According to Bloomberg, the index ranks countries based on 7 indicators:

  1. Research & development (R&D) intensity
  2. Manufacturing value-added
  3. Productivity
  4. High-tech density
  5. Tertiary efficiency
  6. Researcher concentration
  7. Patent activity

Each indicator has equal weightage.

Singapore rose by 1 spot

In 2020, Singapore was No. 3 – that means we improved on our position by 1 spot.

Incidentally, we’re the only South-east Asian country in the top 20 – the next regional neighbour in the list is Malaysia, at a distant No. 29.

South Korea also went to No. 1 by rising 1 spot and dethroning Germany, which fell to No. 4.

Singapore did well in 2 indicators

How did we achieve this feat?

We did quite well in 2 indicators, namely tertiary efficiency and manufacturing value-added.


As we can see from the chart, Singapore’s No. 1 in tertiary efficiency.

We’re also 3rd in manufacturing value-added.

Singapore’s No. 1 in pushing people to get degrees

But what exactly is tertiary efficiency, and why are we so good at it?

According to Bloomberg, the tertiary efficiency indicator measures the pervasiveness of university education among our population.

NUS Professor dismissedSource

4 factors are taken into account:

  1. The percentage of people in tertiary education among their peers
  2. The percentage of the labour force with a tertiary degree
  3. Proportion of new graduates from science and engineering every year in the labour force
  4. Proportion of new graduates from science and engineering every year among graduands

Thus, what it tells us is Singapore’s No. 1 in pushing people to get degrees, especially in science and engineering.


Given the number of kiasu parents we have, that’s totally unsurprising.

Manufacturing a key pillar of Singapore’s economy

Another metric we did well in is manufacturing.

Or more precisely, the value added by manufacturing. That means it’s not enough to just make things, but make innovative things.

Generally, countries that focus on products like pharmaceuticals, automobiles and computers fare well in this indicator.

Manufacturing is so important to Singapore that we even have a Manufacturing 2030 roadmap, as laid out by Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post on Monday (1 Feb).


He said manufacturing is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy for the future, and innovation is at the heart of it.

We also have a strong pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, producing 4 out of 10 top pharmaceutical drugs by revenue, he said.


Bloomberg also noted that Singapore has allocated much of our budget to help workers and companies transition to a digital economy.

Innovation now more important due to Covid-19

In the 2021 index, we see for the 1st time how Covid-19 has had a greater impact on the importance of innovation.

Bloomberg outlined 3 areas where countries like Singapore are using innovation to fight the virus:

  1. Government efforts to contain Covid-19
  2. Digital infrastructure that allows us to survive it – e.g. working from home and home-based learning
  3. The race to develop vaccines to end the pandemic

Bloomberg noted that many countries that have a high ranking in their index, like Singapore, are “world leaders” in fighting Covid-19.

Singapore’s mask-making capabilities have been ramped up significantly.

Some of the areas that were notable were proficiency in contact tracing and speedy vaccination of citizens.

Being open to new ways of doing things

Clearly, we’re doing something right if a tiny country like us can beat many others in the world in the area of innovation.

The high regard that the world has for our innovation skills should prompt more of us to be open to new ways of doing things.

And looks like our mothers’ nagging at us to do our homework did have a purpose after all.

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Featured image adapted from MS News.

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