The 10 Most Technologically Advanced Countries

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We live in a technology-saturated era, but certain countries are experiencing more advancement than others. Depending on what criteria you use, the most technologically advanced countries are different, so this article represents just one ranking. For our list, we studied the 2022 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, which measures 63 economies on their “capacity and readiness to adopt and explore digital technologies.”

According to the 2022 IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, the 10 most technologically advanced countries are Denmark, the United States, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong SAR, and Canada.

#1. Denmark

Score: 100.00

The IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking was created in 2017, and in 2022, Denmark took the top spot for the first time. The analysts credit the country’s success to its future readiness, which refers to how prepared a country is to “exploit digital transformation.” Denmark also earned strong scores for knowledge and technology factors, and its position as a leader in talent, training, and education.

According to the International Trade Administration, Denmark is a big source of software and IT products. The ICT sector is worth $35 billion and focuses on software development and services, although it doesn’t do a lot of in-country manufacturing. It’s also a big area for robotics and drone technology. While 2022 was the first year Denmark was #1 on the ranking, it’s been a technologically advanced country for years.

#2. The United States

Score: 99.81

In 2022, the USA lost its usual spot as the most technologically advanced country on the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking. It still ranks very high, but it lost the top spot because of a drop in all factors, especially the technology factor, which analyzes the country’s “overall context facilitating the development of digital technologies.” The report also pointed out worries about the banking and financial services’ cybersecurity abilities. There was upward movement in some areas, like training and education, but the country will need to improve in other factors if it wants to regain the #1 spot.

The USA has been a technological leader for decades. In 2018, it was the largest producer of high-technology manufacturing, which includes semiconductors, computers, aircraft, spacecraft, and more. Even back then, however, experts were noting a decline for the US as other countries rose.

#3. Sweden

Score: 99.81

Sweden ties with the USA on its overall score thanks to a solid performance on all the IMD factors. It’s #2 in the knowledge factor, #4 in future readiness, and #5 in technology. The country also experienced an improvement in talent and IT integration.

Sweden has been a technological leader in Europe for a handful of years. A 2021 Reuters article described the nation as “the Silicon Valley of Europe.”  It has the third-highest startup rate in the world and the highest three-year survival rate for startups. Besides California’s Silicon Valley, Stockholm had the most “unicorns,” which are startups valued above #1 billion per capita. Huge tech companies like Spotify, Skype, and Mojang (Minecraft) are all based in Sweden.

#4. Singapore

Score: 99.46

Singapore is the fourth most technologically advanced country in the world mostly thanks to being #1 in the technology factor. It also has the #2 spot for the technological framework factor and jumped from #5 to #1 in the regulatory framework sub-factor. It doesn’t have such a great score for future readiness (it’s #10), but it’s doing well in business agility and IT integration.

According to the International Trade Administration, Singapore is one of the most wired countries. Citizens are extremely digitally connected, excited to use new technologies, and big data users. Since 2014, it’s been trying to become a “Smart Nation,” which is a government initiative to digitize processes and weave technology into everyday life.

#5. Switzerland

Score: 98.23

2022 represented an improvement for Switzerland, which earned the #1 spot for the knowledge factor, which refers to intangible infrastructure (like education) necessary for discovering and understanding new technologies. In all the sub-factors related to knowledge (like scientific concentration, talent, and training & education), Switzerland ranked in the top 10 economies. According to the report, however, executives worry about how available digital skills are. The country also experienced a sharp drop from #3 to #7 in future readiness.

Switzerland is viewed as a leader in global innovation. Despite its small size, it’s been very successful in things like how many patents are registered each year, how much money goes into research and development, and how solid its educational system is. It’s also home to many fintech companies (fintech is technology related to financial and banking services) and blockchain startups.

#6. The Netherlands

Score: 97.85

According to the IMD report, the Netherlands enjoyed improvements in the knowledge and technology factors. It’s either stable or moving upward in training, training & education, scientific concentration, technological framework, and other sub-factors. It’s also doing well in the future readiness factor, where it’s been consistent and within the top #10 for relevant factors.

According to the International Trade Administration, the Netherlands has a great ICT sector for how small it is. It’s been rising in teleworking and teleconferencing software, mobile software, cloud-based software, and network software. The country is also a leader in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, content management products, and more.

#7. Finland

Score: 96.60

In 2022, Finland improved its rank in the future readiness and technology categories, where it rose in sub-factors like regulatory framework, adaptive attitudes, and business legibility. It also improved its talent and training & education scores. IT integration was the only area where it wasn’t stable or improving.

Finland has led in technological advancements for years. In 2001, a UNDP report ranked it as the most technologically advanced country in the world. It’s where technologies like the first heart rate monitor, the web browser, SMS messaging, and more were born. With such a rich history of innovation, Finland continues to attract new companies and entrepreneurs.

#8. South Korea

Score: 95.20

South Korea improved in many ways in 2022. It ranked #2 in future readiness and #1 in the adaptive attitude sub-factor. It was also #2 in business agility, #3 in scientific concentration, and #7 in technological framework. The report was concerned about sustainability since the country fell in the talent sub-factor. Digital skills and international experience were a concern for executives, too.

Semiconductors are a huge sector for South Korea. The country hosts Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which are two of the biggest memory chip companies in the world. The International Trade Administration also projects growth for cloud services and artificial intelligence. Because South Korea adopted 5G so early and has so many mobile devices, cybersecurity is an issue.

#9. Hong Kong SAR

Score: 94.36

Hong Kong SAR is a special administrative region in China and a city, but the IMD includes it on its list, where it dropped from 2nd to 9th in 2022. All sub-factors experienced a decrease, except in the technological framework category, where it’s still #1. Executives are losing confidence in the country’s ability to attract skilled staff from abroad, which affects the dropping score.

Technology is very important to Hong Kong. For its 2023-2024 budget, the city set aside billions for the innovation and technology industry, which includes a microelectronics institute to make chips for electric cars and research into life and health technology. The city also has a lot of startups focusing on biotechnology, artificial intelligence, financial technologies, and more.

#10. Canada

Score: 94.15

Canada improved in many IMD factors, including knowledge (where it reached #3) and future readiness (where it reached #11). The country’s progress continued with sub-factors like scientific concentration, talent, and training & education. It earned a #2 spot for IT integration and #19 for business agility, both of which represent increases. It did experience a decline in adaptive attitudes and technological framework, where it’s #18 and #31 respectively.

Canada has a very large technology sector, which imports more than it exports. It does have a strong local sector with thousands of companies in ICT, mostly within the software and computer services industries. Most are small companies. Leading sub-sectors include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, cloud services, and robotics.

What was the IMD’s methodology for ranking technologically advanced countries?

We touched on the criteria the IMD used to calculate a country’s score, but let’s dig into the methodology a bit deeper. Three main factors were considered: knowledge, technology, and future readiness. Within these factors were three sub-factors, which helped give a more thorough view of a country’s advancements. Here’s what the main criteria break down to:

  • Knowledge: Talent, training & education, and scientific concentration
  • Technology: Regulatory framework, capital, and technological framework
  • Future readiness: Adaptive attitudes, business agility, and IT integration

The nine sub-factors included 54 criteria in total. Curious about that criteria? Here’s a snapshot of what the sub-factors look like:

  • Talent: International experience, digital/technological skills, and net flow of international students.
  • Regulatory framework: Starting a business, enforcing contracts, immigration laws
  • Technological framework: Internet users, communications technology, and wireless broadband
  • IT integration: Cybersecurity, software piracy, and public-private partnerships
  • Adaptive attitudes: Attitudes toward globalization, internet retailing, and smartphone possession

The IMD’s ranking is just one list of the most technologically advanced countries, but it gives you a general idea of which countries invest the most in technology and compete on the global technology stage.