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Every year, the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and partner institutions publish an index that ranks the innovation prowess of some 150 countries around the world.

In this audio interview Francis Gurry, WIPO’s director general, explains how the diversity of innovation on the ground in India shows a need to think about improving the Global Innovation Index so it’s a better reflection of reality and better captures innovation in large, diverse economies, including China and the United States. 

The index needs to take into account activities at the grassroots, and countries’ local circumstances more generally, he said.

Gurry’s reflection came as a consequence of attending the Festival of Innovation organised in Delhi by the National Innovation Foundation this month (4-10 March). Hosted by India’s president, the event brought together citizen inventors, students and experts from around the world to discuss the country’s drive for inclusive innovation.

Although India has risen 15 places up the Global Innovation Index, and is expected to rise further, it’s still ranked lower than it should, according to Gurry. It performs extremely well in quality of its human resources, the number of science and engineering graduates produced every year, ICT services and creative goods exports. Where he sees need for improvement, however, is on pupil to teacher ratio, and on the ease of starting a business.

The interview, recorded in Delhi during the festival, also touches on what the rest of the world can learn from how India’s innovation foundation works to support students and citizen inventors from around the country.