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Sweden climbed to second place in the 2017 Bloomberg Innovation Index, which scores economies using factors including research and development spending and the concentration of high-tech public companies.
Silver medal winner Sweden owes most of its rise to improvement in the manufacturing value-added metric, the news bureau said.
Fresh ideas tend to pay off big in Sweden, even as the current government is less business-friendly and has imposed labor taxes that could crimp business investment, said Magnus Henrekson, director of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics, a private foundation in Stockholm. The Swedes themselves promote an atmosphere of great personal ambition — unlike some European neighbors that emphasize the collective — and that’s a boon to innovation, he said.
“In the culture, people are super individualistic — this means that people have ideas and are very interested in pursuing them in this way in order to become wealthy,” said Henrekson. “The incentives are there and the tax system favors them.”
Overall the Nordic nations dominate the top 15, while South Korea remained the big winner, topping the international charts in R&D intensity, value-added manufacturing and patent activity and with top-five rankings in high-tech density, higher education and researcher concentration.