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New Zealand's global innovation ranking has slipped from 17th to 18th, while Australia has jumped three places to 17th in rankings calculated for the 2014 Global Innovation Index, compiled by Cornell University.
While New Zealand scores highly in areas such as political stability (3rd), investor protection (1st), effective government (9th) and regulatory quality (4th), the overall ranking is pulled down by such low placings as 64th in economic output per person employed, 63rd in high and medium high-tech exports, and 64th in the number of science and engineering graduates, despite a reasonably high ranking of 16th for reading, maths and science proficiency.
New Zealand is ranked fifth among six "innovation leaders" in the Asia-Pacific region, which was led in 2014 by Hong Kong, which pushed the previous top-ranked innovation nation in the region, Singapore, into second place.
Topping the index was Switzerland, with the UK in second place, followed by Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands and the US. Small innovative economies which New Zealand likes to compare itself with, such as Israel and Denmark, scored 15th and eighth respectively.