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Snakes and Ladders: Mexico and the 2022 Global Innovation Index

By Victor Sanchez - Pragmatec


By Victor Gabriel Sánchez | Presidente - Wed, 01/04/2023 - 11:00

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Like in the traditional game of snakes and ladders, innovation in Mexico has moved up and down in the Global Innovation Index in the last 10 years (Figure 1). This annual index, which integrates 81 variables that measure innovation efficiency, ranks 131 countries. 


Figure 1. México’s ranking in the GII (2013-2022)  Source: GII 2013-2022

Mexico fell three positions in its 2022 annual ranking, going from 55th to 58th as compared to 2021 and is currently the third best-ranked country in Latin America after Chile and Brazil. Likewise, countries such as Chile, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil improved from their previous positions (specifically, Peru and Argentina have moved up 11 positions since 2020, while Brazil has gained eight ).

Table 1 lists the main strengths and weaknesses related to innovation in Mexico.  Regarding strengths, it is clearly observed that it is the sophistication of the Mexican market that gives the country its main competitive advantage: creative goods exports, high-tech exports, high-tech manufacturing, high-tech imports, domestic market scale, and production and export complexity are variables that result from a Mexican tradition of manufacturing and foreign trade that has been consolidating since the 1990s.

In the area of weaknesses, there are government-related factors, such as political and operational stability, policies for doing business, and government funding/pupil, secondary; labor and funding factors that negatively impact the private sector, including labor productivity growth, venture capital investors, deals/bn PPP$ GDP; and market-level challenges, such as Import and export of ICT services and cultural and creative services exports.

Table 1. Strengths and weaknesses of Mexico in GII 2022.  Source: GII 2022

This year, the global Top 10 ranking is made up of Switzerland, the US, Sweden, the UK, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Germany, Finland, and Denmark. The global report allows readers to identify the main economies by region or by type of economy (Table 2), facilitating the identification and analysis of nations with converging characteristics at cultural, economic, or geographical levels.

Table 2. Top 3 innovation economies by region group and by income group.  Source: GII 2022

An improvement in Mexico's position in the 2023 index is highly unlikely due to the fact that the context of the national innovation ecosystem does not anticipate considerable changes.  It is necessary to strengthen collaborative initiatives among the various actors that make up this ecosystem to begin addressing this situation. At the government level, the General Law on Humanities, Science, Technology, and Innovation presented by CONACYT, and which is under review in the Chamber of Deputies, has not yet been approved. As a result, the short-term vision of the government regarding innovation is not defined. At the business level, it is imperative that the business chambers consolidate their innovation groups to motivate small and medium-sized companies to generate incremental or radical improvements in their activities. At the academic level, it is important that the Technology Transfer Offices have a more integrating role that facilitates an efficient approach between technological supply and demand.

Changes in the Network of Technology Transfer Offices 

In October 2022, the Eleventh Congress of the Network of Technology Transfer Offices in Mexico (REDOTTMX) was held. This edition focused on "Collaboration and social responsibility for innovation and the development of economies" and attracted  472 registrations in its face-to-face and hybrid modalities. This annual event, which continues to be one of the most important in Latin America, focused on technology transfer, offering various training and outreach activities, such as conferences, discussion tables, workshops, calls for startups, technological challenges, and technological exhibitions.

The event also showcased the change of the Board of Directors for the 2022-2024 period.  Marcela Castillo, from the UNAM Institute of Chemistry, will now preside over this body.

Serving as president of the Board of Directors in REDOTTMX since 2020 was an honor and a great responsibility that was fulfilled with the help of a board of directors and a management team committed to promoting innovation in Mexico through technology transfer. During the 2020-2022 period, REDOTTMX focused on three major priorities: Strengthening the country's technology transfer experts; providing tools for the maturity of Technology Transfer Offices; and linking the actors of the innovation ecosystem in Mexico.

I wish success to the new REDOTTMX Board of Directors and encourage its members to continue promoting the purpose of this organization.

Photo by:   Victor Sanchez

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