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India Topped in Frontier Tech among Developing Countries – UNCTAD’s ‘Technology and Innovation Report 2021’

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India an overperformer in frontier tech among developing countriesIn accordance with the new country-readiness index released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in its ‘Technology and Innovation Report 2021’, India is the biggest over performer in frontier technologies than it’s per capita gross domestic products (GDP) among 158 countries.

  • The index ranked India at 43 while the estimated one based on per capita income was 108. This meant that India over performed other countries by 65 ranking positions.
  • India was followed by the Philippines, which over performed by 57 ranking positions.

What are frontier technologies?

These are the ones who take advantage of digitalisation and connectivity. The report covered 11 frontier technologies viz. artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), Big data, blockchain, fifth-generation (5G) mobile telephony, three-dimensional (3D) printing, robotics, drones (remotely controlled flights), gene-editing, nanotechnology and solar power.

  • As a group, these 11 technologies already represent a $350-billion market, which by 2025 could grow to over $3.2 trillion.

Table showing Top 5 over performing countries relative to per capita GDP:

Sr No.CountryOver Performance Positions

Parameters of Index: 5

The index was assessed on the basis of five parameters viz. ICT (Information and Communication Technology) deployment, skills, R&D (Research & Development) activity, industry activity and access to finance.

  • It considered the national capacities of the countries related to physical investment, human capital and technological effort.
  • Their over performance is measured as the difference between the actual index rankings and the estimated index rankings based on per capita income.

Key Points:

i.Several developing countries showed stronger capabilities to use and adapt frontier technologies above their GDPs.

ii.China was at position 25. Both India and China performed well in research and development.

iii.The Philippines has a high ranking for industry because of high levels of foreign direct investment in high-technology manufacturing, especially electronics.

iv.The United States (US), Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) were best prepared for frontier technologies.

v.Most of the best-prepared countries are from Europe, except the Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United States (US).

vi.The least ready are in sub-Saharan Africa.

vii.To benefit from frontier technologies, countries need to promote their use, adoption and adaptation.

Challenges faced by Developing countries in frontier technology:

Though several countries showed stronger capabilities in frontier technology but there still many who are lagging behind due to the following challenges:

  • Demographic changes
  • Existing technological gaps
  • Low economic diversification
  • Weak financing mechanism
  • Stringent intellectual property rights

Recent Related News:

i.In accordance with the UNCTAD’s 38th Global Investment Trends Monitor, after the 1990s, the year 2020 saw a fall down in Global foreign direct investment (FDI) which decreased 42% to $859 billion from $1.5 trillion in 2019.

ii.On 8th December 2020, “Invest India” won the 2020 UNCTAD Investment Promotion Award by the UNCTAD. Invest India is a non-profit venture under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

About United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):

Established– 1964, by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
Acting Secretary-General– Isabelle Durant of Belgium
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland