Deliver Your News to the World

Public believe China and India set to become World leaders for innovation, survey shows


China is set to become the world’s powerhouse of innovation over the next decade, eclipsing the United States and Japan, according to an international survey released by AstraZeneca today.

The world’s most populous nation and second largest economy will also be its most inventive by 2020, followed by India, the AstraZeneca Innovation Survey shows. The US and Japan will be relegated from first and second place to third and fourth respectively.

The survey of 6,000 respondents across six countries portrays a strong sense of optimism amongst people living in the developing nations of China and India about the ability of their nations to prosper through innovation – in stark contrast to the views of those in developed Western economies.

A marked east-west divide in terms of what people regard as the most important scientific achievements and inventions of the last century also emerges from the survey. For citizens of India, China and Japan, the greatest achievement of the past 100 years has been instant global communication. By contrast, people in Britain and Sweden view the successful combating of serious diseases as the most important breakthrough. The Moon landing, slashing global journey times and increasing average lifespan are seen as much less important than either of these two by all those surveyed.

The world’s most innovative country today is the US, according to the survey, with 30 per cent of people taking that view. The US is followed by Japan on 25 per cent and China on 14 per cent. The UK is rated the most innovative by only 3 per cent of people. The US is also regarded as the country that provides the greatest amount of support for innovative individuals and businesses by respondents in all six countries surveyed.

However, when asked which country will be the most innovative a decade from now, China, which is also forecast to overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy by 2020, comes top with 27 per cent, followed by India on 17 per cent and the US with 14 per cent. Japan is in fourth place with 12 per cent, while just two per cent of respondents think Britain will rank as the world’s most innovative nation in a decade’s time.

The survey also reveals a strong sense of self-confidence amongst those living in developing countries about their potential to invent and improve their scientific and technological standing. More than half of those in China and India thought their home countries would be the most innovative in the world by 2020 (57 per cent and 56 per cent respectively). Americans were also optimistic with 28 per cent, the largest proportion, believing their country would hold this position. However, just one in twenty Britons believed the UK would be able to lay claim to this title.

These findings were also reflected in people’s views about how absolute levels of innovation have changed. A majority of those living in the US, Japan and Britain agree that their countries are not as innovative as they used to be, while 44 per cent of Swedes felt the same. By contrast, more people in China disagreed with this statement than agreed.

Asked about specific innovations over the past century, the internet, computers and electricity were generally seen as the most important. However, people in the US, Britain and Sweden also placed equal importance on the invention of vaccines and antibiotics. The creation of the internet was also viewed as the innovation that has had the greatest impact (29 per cent). This was a view held much more strongly in China and Japan (42 per cent and 43 per cent respectively) than in Britain, the US and Sweden.

The IT and telecoms sectors were universally seen as the most innovative followed by the pharmaceutical and automotive industries.

Commenting on the results of the survey, David Brennan, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, said:

Our survey offers a fascinating perspective into what innovation means to people from different parts of the world. But I am convinced that the greatest innovations are discovered when the best skills and talents from around the world can be effectively combined. I’m also encouraged to see in the survey that public perceptions of innovation and creativity are strongly associated with science and medicine. After all, we have a common connection with people around the world through our universal interest in better health.

Country responses – opinions by country

Four in ten Britons consider Japan to be the world’s most innovative country today while three in ten believe it will be China in 2020 but only 5 per cent believe it will be the UK. Two-thirds of British people also feel the country is not as innovative as it used to be. The most innovative sectors are seen as IT/telecoms and pharmaceutical industries (68 per cent and 51 per cent respectively) while scientists are viewed as belonging to the most innovative profession (72 per cent). The greatest innovations are the internet and antibiotics (16 per cent each) and the greatest achievement of the last 100 years has been the eradication of serious diseases (40 per cent).

Americans are most likely to consider their own country as the most innovative in the world (35 per cent) followed by Japan (29 per cent). Three in ten also think the USA will still be the most innovative country in 2020. Although Americans also see their country as most supportive of innovative companies (44 per cent), six in ten feel that the US is not as innovative as it used to be. Americans consider the computer and electricity to be the greatest innovations of the last 100 years (18 per cent) and the internet (24 per cent) to be the innovation that has had most impact on them

Swedes regard Japan (27 per cent) and the US (17 per cent) as the most innovative nations in the world but just 5 per cent apply that description to their own country and fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) believes that Sweden is most supportive towards innovation. A quarter of Swedes believe China will inherit the mantle of the world’s leading innovator in 2020 (24 per cent). IT & telecoms (59 per cent) and pharmaceuticals (39 per cent) are seen as the most innovative industries while electricity (19 per cent) and antibiotics (17 per cent) are viewed as the greatest innovations of the past century

The Japanese see the US as the most innovative country in the world today (40 per cent) but believe that China will overtake it by 2020 (21 per cent). The Japanese have a relatively poor perception of their own inventive prowess with just 12 per cent regarding their country as the most innovative today and 60 per cent worrying that it is less innovative than it once was. The Japanese regard science as the most innovative profession (55 per cent) and the internet and computers (27 per cent each) as the greatest innovations

Indian citizens consider the US to be the most innovative country in the world (29 per cent) but 16 per cent think their own country can already make that claim and 56 per cent believe it will be the case by 2020. Three in ten Indians think India provides the most supportive environment for innovation while IT & telecoms (66 per cent) and media (45 per cent) are viewed as the most innovative industries. The computer is voted the greatest innovation of the last 100 years and instant global communication (42 per cent) is seen as the greatest achievement of the last century, compared with 16 per cent who nominate the eradication of serious diseases

The Chinese agree that the US is the world’s most innovative country today (46 per cent) and biggest supporter of innovation (50 per cent). But over half (57 per cent) believe China will have overtaken the US by 2020 and only a third (34 per cent) agree that China is less innovative than it used to be. IT & telecoms (73 per cent) and aerospace (58 per cent) are see as the two most innovative industries while 34 per cent rate pharmaceuticals as innovative. The internet (33 per cent) is seen as the greatest innovation of the last 100 years, instant global communication the greatest achievement (47 per cent)

– ENDS –
About the survey

The AstraZeneca International Innovation Survey was conducted by Brunswick Research across six countries: Britain, the US, Sweden, Japan, India and China. A total of 1,000 interviews were conducted in each country.

Respondents were recruited from an online market research panel, with interviews taking place between 6 and 20 August 2010. In Britain, US, and Sweden were aged between 18 - 65 years and those in Japan, India and China were aged 18 - 50 years. Those in Japan, India and China were confined to the main urban centres. Data was subsequently weighted by age, gender and region, according to offline nationally representative figures based on national census information. In addition, quotas were set on each of these criteria, as well as social grade in Britain and income in the US and Sweden.

Where a global average figure is shown, this represents a simple average of the results from each of the six countries surveyed.

Further materials are available at
About AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines. As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of US $32.8 billion in 2009. For more information please visit:


This news content was configured by WebWire editorial staff. Linking is permitted.

News Release Distribution and Press Release Distribution Services Provided by WebWire.