To lead in the global economy means a country has tolled in innovation. Asian countries can no longer follow their western counterparts if they want to grow. To succeed means that they have to inspire innovation. Fortunately many get this.
South Korea retained the top spot in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index which ranks economies based upon dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.
It’s interesting to note that not just large economies are innovative. While the US and Germany did well in the ranking, so did Israel, Sweden and Finland. Size is seems is less of a predictor of innovation than a willingness on the part of government and business to encourage it.