Where in the World is Innovation?

by Stephen Shapiro

I recently discovered a new Google offering, Google Trends. Type in a word or phrase, and it will show you a graph of how often that expression is searched (as a trend, not as actual volume). More interestingly, it will tell you where in the world the expression is most frequently searched. Americans like to think that they are the center of the innovation world. But if Google Trends is correct, we are not even on the map. During 2006, the top 10 regions of the world where the word “innovation” was searched are:

1. Singapore
2. Denmark
3. Malaysia
4. India
5. South Africa
6. South Korea
7. Ireland
8. Norway
9. Australia
10. New Zealand

Type in “creativity” and you get a similar list, but with India leading the pack and the United Kingdom appearing in the top 10. Yes, there are more people in India than in the United States. But Singapore? Denmark? Danish is the most popular language used when searching innovation. Fascinating.

I don’t want to read into these trends too much. Google admits that these results are approximations. And, a lack of searches for the words “innovation” and “creative” does not imply a lack of innovation or creativity. However, I find it interesting. According to Dan Pink, author of a “Whole New Mind,” as work gets outsourced to India and China, innovation & creativity will become the main currency of the United States. If these trends are accurate, we may need to print more currency.


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