South Africa has achieved the grade of Innovation Adopter in the second edition of the International Innovation Scorecard, an assessment of policies and practices around the world that fuel tech innovation or stand in the way of progress released at CES last week by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

A record 24 countries earned the highest ranking of “Innovation Champion”: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, the US, and the European Union (EU).

“The 2023 Scorecard captures a surge in entrepreneurship since the last release in 2019, as innovators around the world harnessed advanced technologies to develop vaccines with incredible speed, deliver medical care across borders, create online tools for commerce and education, and navigate complex supply chain challenges,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA.

“This year’s Innovation Champions embrace policies that unleash innovation and empower diverse communities to bring new technologies to life and to market, improving the lives of millions.”

The Scorecard measures 40 indicators across 17 categories, including tax friendliness, environmental quality, trade policy, broadband access, and cybersecurity. The 2023 edition expanded to include nine additional countries, assessing a total of 70 nations spanning the globe, including all members of the EU and G20.

The next tier of nations ranked in the Scorecard – Innovation Leaders – includes dynamic Asian economies like South Korea and Malaysia, as well as a group of democracies only a generation removed from the Cold War, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary. Four Innovation Leaders — Bulgaria, Malta, Slovakia and Greece — are new entrants to the group, reflecting the ever-expanding frontier of technological progress.

A third category of 20 countries are ranked as Innovation Adopters, which show strong pro-innovation policies and trends in some categories, but not most. Bright spots include the diversity of the workforce in Mexico and Costa Rica, the business-friendly tax policies of Romania and Kazakhstan, and the Philippines’ commitment to free trade.

The fourth and final category – Modest Innovators – is also the Scorecard’s smallest with only 10 countries listed. These nations have the greatest room for improvement, which can happen by increasing the ethnic and gender diversity of their workforces, loosening restrictions on the ownership and use of digital assets, or eliminating barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation.

South Africa’s scorecard is as follows:

Composite grade – Innovation Adopter

Composite score – 2 313

Diversity – B-

Freedom – B-

Broadband – D+

Human capital – D+

Tax friendliness – C-

R&D investment – C

Entrepreneurial activity – B

Unicorns – D

Resilience – C+

Environment – C

Tech trade – F

Drones – C

Telehealth – A-

Digital assets – A

Self-driving vehicles – C

Cybersecurity – B

Artificial intelligence – A