Ireland cracks top ten in world innovation rankings
Ireland is one of the top ten most innovative countries in the world, according to a new study.
The 2015 Global Innovation Index (GII) looked at 'effective innovation policies for development' in 141 economies.
Ireland moved from 11th in the rankings last year to eighth.
The country knocked Hong Kong out of the top ten, and is now ranked above Denmark, Luxembourg and Germany.
Switzerland topped the index for the second year running while the UK was second.
Its rise from from tenth in 2011 to second in both 2014 and 2015 is the most rapid increase among the top ten GII-ranked innovation nations.
Eight of the top ten nations were from Europe, with the US and Singapore being the only two nations ranked as highly from outside the continent.
The GII said that Ireland's sharp rise was attributable to a strong performance in categories such as infrastructure and creative outputs, where it rose by 14 and seven places respectively.
Other areas cited as strengths were the amount of time people spend in education, the percentage of companies that offer formal training and the ease of protecting investors.
Ireland fared slightly worse in human capital and research - down two places - while business sophistication was down one. The report said weaknesses include " the cost of redundancy dismissal, total value of stocks traded intensity of local competition [and] cultural and creative service exports."
Another weakness cited was the ranking of Ireland's top three universities, as assessed by the QS World University Ranking.
Ireland's top universities saw slight slips in the most recent QS World Rankings, with Trinity College Dublin moving from 71st last year to 78th, UCD dropping from 139th to 154th and UCC falling from 230th to 233rd.
The ranking rise was welcomed by the Science Foundation Ireland. Professor Mark Ferguson, its director general, and chief scientific adviser to the Government, said: "I am delighted to see that Ireland is now within the top ten most innovative nations in the world for the second time.
"Innovation is a critical part of Ireland's economic recovery and social process and the Irish government, academia and industry have been committed to investing strategically in innovative development.
"This ranking highlights that our collective sustained investment is working."
He added: "It is particularly pleasing to see that Ireland is placed number one in the world for IT trade in terms of communications, computer and information services exports and foreign direct investment outflows."