THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC has shown that digital technologies determine not only whether or not countries thrive, but also how well they are able to navigate trying times.
Applied effectively, digital technologies not only enable education and work to move from schools and offices to the home, but also provide increasingly efficient ways to organise processes in companies and governments.
New technologies, such as 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, sensors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and robotics also have the potential to disrupt nearly any industry.
The competitiveness of nations in these technologies will determine how prosperous their countries will be in the decades ahead.
Within the Group of Seven (G7), Canada was able to advance most in its relative digital competitiveness between 2018 and 2020, which makes the country our top digital riser in this group.
Conversely, Japan and Germany decreased the most within the G7 during this period.
Italy was able to improve its position in the G7 from last place in the previous year to second place in 2021.
Within the G20, the ranking reveals strong dynamics also regarding the two global digital superpowers: China gained significantly in digital competitiveness, while the United States lost out over the same time period, mainly driven by the ecosystem dimension in our ranking.
The top-three digital risers in the G20 have been China, Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
India and Japan followed, and Germany came last.
Here is a summary of the best practices the digital risers share:
1) They follow comprehensive plans with ambitious goals
China, for example, has implemented a comprehensive push for entrepreneurship and innovation.
With its China 2025 initiative, it provides state support for 10 key sectors in which it aims to become a world leader.
Other nations have also formulated ambitious visions for their digital future: Vietnam wants its digital economy to account for 30% of its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, and Hungary has defined its goal to become one of the 10 leading countries in digital technologies in Europe by the end of the decade.
Successful digital risers also launch concrete initiatives to support these goals.
Italy, for instance, has started Republica Digitale, a new programme to overcome the digital divide, promote digital inclusion, and strengthen the development of digital skills among citizens.
2) They focus on entrepreneurship
Brazil, for example, has initated various public and public-private efforts to stimulate entrepreneurship in the country, such as the InovAtiva Brasil programme, StartOut Brasil, and the National Committee of Start-Up Support Initiatives.
In Egypt the government has supported the development of six technology parks to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Canadian government has also invested over US$1,2 billion in so-called ‘innovation superclusters’ to accelerate business-driven innovation, with the potential to energise the economy.
* Philip Meissner is a professor at the ESCP Business School, and the founder and director of the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness.
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