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Pakistan saw a spike not seen before in startups in 2021, which should mean that creativity and innovation surged too given the relationship between entrepreneurship and innovation. The funding spree in startups stood over $300 million in 2021. However, the country needs much more to climb the rungs of the global innovation ladder.

Pakistan’s rank on the Global Innovation Index for 2021 saw an improvement of eight places, but the country continues to hover among the lower end of the global rankings. In 2021, Pakistan stood at 99 out of 132 countries in the Global Innovation Index during the year.

Global Innovation Index ranks the innovation ecosystem performance of economies around the globe and highlights the innovation strengths and weaknesses in innovation metrics for countries. It ranks world economies according to their innovation capabilities. Index comprises around 80 indicators that include measures on the political environment, education, and infrastructure and knowledge creation to get the overall picture of innovation of the economies. The significant of 2021 innovation index is that it not only tracks most recent trends in innovation, but also focuses on the impact of Covid on innovation during the time period.

While Pakistan’s ranks weakly on the Global Innovation Index, the performance of individual indices offers some hope. Pakistan ranks 17th among the 34 lower middle-income group economies, and 7th among the 10 economies in Central and Southern Asia. The country has performed better in innovation outputs than innovation inputs in 2021. Pakistan performed best in knowledge and technology outputs where its key strengths as taken from its performance on subsectors and indices rested with domestic market sales, high-tech imports software spending, ICT service exports, mobile app creation etc.

Nonetheless, the country continues to be pulled down by weaker innovation scores on the rankings which is largely blamed on the weaker education system and poor literacy rates in the country. The low literacy rate and lack of major investment in innovation in the form of research and development and education are basic factors among the 80 plus factors that pull the rankings down. Its position on the human capital and research indicator, infrastructure and market sophistication are low and discouraging. Compared to Pakistan, the others in the region especially India contrast significantly. India sits high up at 46th position with improvement. Indian government has highlighted knowledge capital, the vibrant start-up ecosystem, and the work done by the public and the private research organizations as factors for higher and consistent performance of the country on the Global Innovation Index.

A key takeaway from the Global Innovation Index, which can help the policy makers, decision makers, trailblazers and the likes in improving innovation and creativity in the country is that the country produces more innovation outputs relative to its level of innovation investments.

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