Global Innovation Index, Brazilian Unicorns and National Innovation Ranking

Brazil increased five positions in the Global Innovation Index (GII) in comparison with the 2020 ranking and is now in 57th place among 132 countries. The Brazilian placement, has however, been better, 10 places above now, obtained in 2011, when it...

Brazil increased five positions in the Global Innovation Index (GII) in comparison with the 2020 ranking and is now in 57th place among 132 countries. The Brazilian placement, has however, been better, 10 places above now, obtained in 2011, when it reached its best mark, the 47th position. At the top of the list is Switzerland, followed by Sweden and the United States.

In the evaluation of the National Confederation of Industry, the Brazilian position is incompatible with the fact that the country was the 12th largest economy on the planet in 2020, and with the reality of having a sophisticated business sector. Recent work by the Institute for Industrial Development Studies (IEDI) shows Brazil in 13th place among 45 countries in the international ranking for industry production performance.


The Global Innovation Index is composed of the average of five pillars (Institutions, Human Capital and Research, Infrastructure, Market Sophistication, and Business Sophistication) from the Innovation Inputs subindex and the two pillars (Knowledge and Technology Products, and Creative Products) from the Innovation Outputs subindex, distributed over 81 indicators.

Three of the factors that led Brazil to a better placement in relation to last year were:

  • the GDP retraction – which gives a false perception of advancement due to the use of this relative measure in some indicators
  •  the insertion of new indicators in the ranking,
  •  the good business performance, reflected in the performance in indicators such as High-tech products and Amounts received for the use of intellectual property.

 The use of data from other years and the plan to combat the backlog of patent applications may also have contributed to the gain in rankings.

The country’s main weaknesses, as indicated in the ranking, are Gross capital formation, Ease of starting a business, Ease of obtaining credit and finally, Applied tariff rate.

Brazilian unicorns and the country’s performance in Innovation

The Brazilian startup scene has been surprising the international market in recent years. In the first half of 2021, the country raised US$ 5.2 billion in investments, surpassing the total amount of 2020, according to data from the Inside Venture Capital Report 2021, produced by Distrito. According to the LAVCA 2021 Latin American Startup Directory, of the startups that raised more than US$ 1 million in 2020 and in the first half of 2021 in Latin America, 54% are Brazilian.

According to an article by CNI’s Director of Innovation, Gianna Sagazio, and CNI’s Executive Manager of Innovation, Cândida Oliveira published in NeoFeed, they stated that:

 “since the creation, in 2018, of Brazil’s first unicorn -99 – we have witnessed an increasingly rapid growth in the number of companies valued at more than $1 billion. In just over 36 months, we have reached the milestone of 20 unicorns that – beyond market value – boost the economy, generating jobs and solutions for businesses of all sizes.”


The Brazilian startup 99 is a ride-sharing app founded in 2012 and became famous not only for competing head-to-head with Uber in 2015 – but for being the first Brazilian startup to be worth $1 million and become a unicorn.

National Innovation Ranking

States in the Southeast and South of Brazil are outstanding regarding innovation and consolidate their leading position in the National Ranking. The Innovation Ranking by Brazilian state was conducted by the Industry Observatory of Fiec (Federation of Industries of the State of Ceará), with support from ABDI (Brazilian Agency for Industrial Development).

Source: Folha de São Paulo

The Fiec Innovation Index of the States reflects the performance of the states in two dimensions: capabilities and results. The dimensions, in total, are composed of 12 indicators. The capabilities index captures the following elements:

  • public investment in science and technology,
  • human capital at the undergraduate level,
  • human capital at the graduate level,
  • insertion of masters and doctors,
  • institutions,
  • infrastructure
  • cooperation

The results index evaluates the following elements:

  • global competitiveness,
  • technological intensity,
  • intellectual property,
  • scientific production
  • entrepreneurship.

São Paulo is the leader both in capabilities and results. The state also stands out for occupying the first position in the specific rankings of 7 of the 12 indicators researched. The indicator in which São Paulo presented its weakest performance was cooperation. Compared to 2020, the state fell one position, moving to fifth place.

The indicator “Cooperation” analyzes the connections between different links in the innovative environment, including technology parks, incubators, and accelerators. Rio Grande do Sul is the leader in this indicator, followed by Santa Catarina.

Learn more about cooperation and innovation in #SwedenBrazilInnovationWeeks: Innovation Weeks Website

Ana Carolina Bussacos & Jacob Paulsen