2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index: A look at where entrepreneurial clean technology companies are most likely to emerge from over the next 10 years – and why.

The new edition of the Global Cleantech Innovation Index (GCII) has just been launched. The Index, previously produced in 2012 and 2014, explores where, relative to GDP, entrepreneurial clean technology companies are most likely to emerge from over the next 10 years – and why. It remains the only study (we know of) seeking to look at why entrepreneurial companies developing sustainable solutions seem to spring up in certain geographies, and which economic, social and environmental conditions cultivate hotbeds for such innovation. The GCII investigates the results of policies, and other related factors, on producing cleantech entrepreneurs and supporting commercialisation of their companies.

This most recent GCII, and accompanying report, were released on Monday the 12th of June 2017, in partnership with World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Swedish Energy Agency (SEA), and Tillväxtverket.

A quick methodology

The index explores the cleantech innovation system of 40 countries through inputs to innovation and outputs of innovation. Here, inputs correspond to the creation of innovation and outputs relate to the country’s ability to commercialise innovation. Each of these inputs and outputs are determined by four equally weighted sets of indicators. The four pillars are built from a total of 21 metrics, condensed into 15 indicators, drawn from both third-party research and Cleantech Group’s proprietary data.

Figure 1: Global Cleantech Innovation Index Framework

Key Findings

Overall, and consistent with the 2014 Index, this 2017 Index demonstrates that countries will score well if they are a) addressing growing demand for renewable energy and other clean technologies b) connecting start-ups with multiple channels to increase their success rates and c) increasing international engagement across the cleantech ecosystem.

Figure 2: 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index country scores
  • The top three positions are held by Denmark, Finland and Sweden, which is not surprising based on very strong positions in the 2014 Index. All three appear to be gearing up for additional growth with increases in the numbers and amount of cleantech funds. The lowest scoring Nordic country is Norway. There are challenges for Norway but it is also the country with highest cleantech R&D budgets in 2013-15. The world would invest roughly 4 times more in cleantech R&D if it adopted the same level of cleantech R&D per GDP as Norway. The Nordic region performs strongly in 2017 Index.
  • Denmark tops the 2017 Index, moving up from 5th place in 2014, based on strong scores in both inputs to innovation and outputs of innovation. The key contributing cleantech-specific drivers include the amount of capital raised by cleantech funds and the number of cleantech organizations. Denmark also shows strong evidence of commercialised cleantech, including cleantech exports, the number of public cleantech companies and the number of renewable energy jobs. *
  • Poland has displayed the biggest change from the 2014 Index, as it rose thirteen places to take 24th place. This is mainly due to three notable increases in cleantech-specific drivers. Poland’s public cleantech R&D expenditure now sits at the global average, having been in last place in the 2014 Index. The country also improved its score in the Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index, moving from 29th to 27th in that Index. These factors are combining to show increasing evidence for emerging cleantech innovation, as Poland moved up 16 places in our measurement of cleantech patent filings.
  • As expected, and consistent with the 2014 Index, there is a positive correlation between inputs to innovation and outputs of innovation. Countries that are facilitating investment in innovation, either through public R&D, cleantech-friendly policy, or any other of the inputs measured, tend to also reap benefits from the commercialisation of cleantech companies.
Figure 3: Cleantech innovation efficiency
  • It is becoming clear that the commercialisation efficiency varies by country, as shown by our analysis of these conversion rates (Figure 4). Germany, Singapore, and South Korea, show relative strength in evidence of commercialised cleantech innovation without having leading inputs to innovation scores, highlighting a strong efficiency in converting inputs. However, the top three overall ranked countries in the 2017 Index are less efficient at conversion, which may make their long-term position in the ranking less stable.


Figure 4: Cleantech innovation conversion rates


To learn more about the 2017 Global Cleantech Innovation Index, go to www.i3connect.com/gcii.


* The indicators data is from 2013 to 2016, which means that the score of countries may not be up to date. The Index results and country profiles should therefore be interpreted as strengths and weaknesses in relation to other countries in the 2013-2016 period. For example, Demark has since cut its cleantech R&D budget by half since measurements were taken for the 2017 Index.