More than 60 countries are represented at CES, the giant consumer electronics show taking place this week in Las Vegas, and the large international presence is a testament to the interest worldwide in entrepreneurship and technology.
But while many governments say they support a homegrown innovation economy, policy decisions may hamper entrepreneurial growth, according to a report out this week by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which puts on the marquee Las Vegas technology show.
The report looked at 12 factors to determine whether a country is an "innovation champion." They include standard indicators like a country’s tax policy, the education level of its workforce, and broadband access and speeds.
Overall, Finland had the highest ranking, followed by the U.S., Canada, other European nations, Australia and New Zealand.
India, Morocco and Colombia were dubbed “modest innovators,” and they were among the lowest scoring nations.
A different set of countries emerged as leaders, however, when CTA looked at some of the more contentious areas of the tech economy, such as drones, ridesharing, self-driving cars and short-term home rentals such as Airbnb.
For example, when it comes to ridesharing, the report found that Panama, Peru, Poland, Rwanda and Mexico were among countries that allow ridesharing to operate most freely.
Likewise, for short-term home rentals such as Airbnb, the report gave its highest marks to Chile, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru among other countries.
The best countries for drone testing and deployment are Australia, Finland, Portugal, Singapore and Sweden.
In an interview with VOA, Gary Shapiro, the chief executive of CTA, said that countries were evaluated “from a uniquely American perspective.” The goal, he said, is to identify which countries have the best policies for innovators, and then encourage other countries to create similar environments.
At Eureka Park, the exhibit area that's home to about 800 early stage startups at CES, about one-third are French. They occupy row after row of the show floor, all under signs reading “La French Tech.”
Senegal brought two IT companies that won a competition for their work for the government.
“Right now we hope to meet a lot of companies here to check what we can do for our country,” said Cheikh Bakhoum, with the Senegal’s State Informatics Agency.
Hrvoje Bujas from Croatia said he came hoping to meet investors, but he switched his goals once he arrived at CES.
“I want to get some feedback from our potential users, women that want to get pregnant,” he said.
His second goal? “To get some space in media.”