Europe’s Falling Behind as China Soars in Digital Innovation

An index paints a grim picture of technological progress in Europe

Pedestrians carrying umbrellas pass a flower stall in Amsterdam.

Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Poor Europe can’t catch a break. The region’s not only trying to keep its currency together, but also struggling to keep up with the fast-moving digital economy.

The Digital Evolution Index, created by the Fletcher School at Tufts University, paints a grim picture of the state of technological innovation in the self-anointed old continent. The top 10 nations with the most negative scores over time hail from Europe, barring Australia.

For Nordic countries such as Norway and Finland, which have a hallowed history of innovation, the index serves as a warning that they’re losing momentum. Just look at what happened to Nokia, once the world’s largest maker of mobile phones. For the likes of Portugal and Spain, it means they are falling even further behind.

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Leave it to Asian nations to yet again lead the charge of priming their economies for electronic commerce. Not only does Singapore occupy the top spot as the most digitally innovative country, the three biggest gainers — dubbed the “breakouts” — also come from the South China Sea region.

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To measure performance past and present, Tufts took into account four drivers of Internet growth: consumer demand, supply and existing infrastructure, institutional environment and innovation.

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