Switzerland has been named the world’s most innovative country for the second year running in a major global report out today.

The Global Innovation Index (GII) – co-authored by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – looked at the performances of 130 countries. They were judged on a range of indicators, including patent filings and investment in education.

Europe took four of the top five positions; with Switzerland followed by Sweden, the Netherlands, the USA and the UK as the world’s leading innovation economies.

Now in its 10th year, the GII says there is still a major gap between developed and developing nations.

“Innovation is the engine of economic growth in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy, but more investment is needed to help boost human creativity and economic output,” explained WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “Innovation can help transform the current economic upswing into longer-term growth.”

The report also wants governments and corporates to invest more in research and development (R&D).

“Efforts to bridge the innovation divide have to start with helping emerging economies understand their innovation strengths and weaknesses and create appropriate policies and metrics,” added Soumitra Dutta, Dean, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University. “This has been the GII’s purpose for more than ten years now.”

And the reason this major cross sectoral story is in the food and drink section is because of the theme of G11 2017: ‘Innovation Feeding the World’.

Growing populations are going to put huge pressure on resources. Food and agriculture systems will only be able to cope by placing innovation at the heart of their global strategies.

Bruno Lanvin, INSEAD Executive Director for Global Indices, said: “We are already witnessing the rapid, worldwide emergence of ‘digital agriculture,’ which includes drones, satellite-based sensors and field robotics. Now there is an urgent need for ‘smart agriculture’ to optimize supply and distribution chains and foster creative new business models that minimize pressure on land, energy and other natural resources – while addressing the needs of the world’s poorest.”

Innovation will be key to developing the sustainable food production methods needed to feed nearly 10 billion by 2050 – while also minimising its effect on climate change.

“By 2050, the world’s population is estimated to reach 9.7 billion. This presents the global agricultural sector with a daunting challenge. The stage has been set for a potential global food crisis if policy makers and other stakeholders fail to implement agricultural innovation that significantly boosts productivity,” added Barry Jaruzelski, Principal at Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business.