Which Government agencies are leading the world in innovation 2017?

Innovation: Never more imperative

For a quick gauge of innovation’s pace, look back no further than 30 years. Bulky desktop computers took up space and offered limited options for “going online” (via a dial-up modem, of course). In the movie “Wall Street,” investment tycoon Gordon Gekko showed off his state-of-the-art mobile phone, roughly the size of a milk carton. At automobile dealerships, buyers enjoyed an abundant range of choices – albeit exclusively among gasoline-powered vehicles.

Those vignettes, now seemingly the stuff of ancient history, underscore the rush of innovation – particularly within the last decade or so – that has given us, by contrast, the tablet, the smartphone, and widely available hybrid and electric vehicles. All of those advances, needless to say, along with so many aspects of social and commercial dynamics, are intertwined with the ever-growing, transformative reach of online connectivity.

Innovation, always a reflection of the human creative urge, has more than ever emerged as an imperative. This is true not only for the pursuit of business success but for the economic growth and prosperity of nations, as well as the welfare of humanity on an increasingly beleaguered planet. Therefore, government agencies, and not only universities and commercial firms, have thrived as key centers of innovation.

Government agencies leading in innovation

Last year, Reuters News and Clarivate Analytics combined to identify the top 25 global government innovators. Those institutions, assessed by a range of criteria, emerged as the most accomplished and prolific in channeling their output of scientific research into intellectual property, reified and defended in the form of successful patents.

Now, a year later, with an updated time window of data to consider, Reuters and Clarivate Analytics provide a new listing, once again presenting the 25 government agencies that are demonstrably strongest in innovation, according to an array of specialized metrics that evaluate research output and patenting activity (see the Methodology).

The table below shows the top 10 of the world’s 25 most innovative government institutions. For the entire listing of 25, download the full report.

TABLE 1: Top 10 of the world’s 25 most innovative government institutions Source: Clarivate Analytics Derwent World Patents Index, InCites and Web of Science

Regional Breakouts

In last year’s ranking, France’s Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternative, also known as the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commision (CEA), took top honors for innovation by a government agency.

In the current ranking, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), fourth last year, moves into the #1 spot, while CEA maintains a high standing at #2. The HHS comprises a number of major agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. As the official assignee on all patents filed by its constituent organizations, the HHS has clearly benefited from the breadth and reach of intellectual property developed by its researchers.

On the overall list, the United States and Germany share the greatest prominence, each accounting for five of the government organizations. In the top 10, meanwhile, France-based institutions win distinction, holding three of the 10 spots.

As noted above, government agencies represent only one sphere in which innovation is taking place; firms in the private sector also eagerly pursue innovation and intellectual property. The ideal scenario, of course, would be increased collaboration and partnership between innovators in the government and private sector. This combination of expertise and other resources would not only foster the economic benefits of innovation, but would likely accelerate the flow of technology directly aimed at improving the quality of life in a world facing many challenges.

A key step for any institution hoping to maximize innovation and other research impacts is to maintain a detailed awareness of its innovation footprint and benchmark its progress against peer institutions. Given the proper information tools, this awareness will help the institution to most efficiently develop and deploy its resources and steer the proper course, while also pointing to the most advantageous collaborations.

To Learn More

More information on innovation from Reuters News and Clarivate Analytics is available at reuters.com/innovation.


To create the ranking of the world’s Top 25 Global Innovators – Government, Reuters News relied on data compiled by Clarivate Analytics via several of its research platforms: InCites, Web of Science, Derwent Innovations Index, Derwent World Patents Index and Patents Citation Index.

For purposes of this project, the term “government” refers to an agency or instrument of government with a reporting line or affiliation with a government department that is primarily taxpayer funded.

Download the report on the Top 25 Global Innovators: Government