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Denmark Beats Out U.S. In 'Networked' Technology

America still features strong points like leadership in innovation and venture capital, according to a World Economic Forum report

In another indication this week that the U.S is losing its competitive high tech edge, the country dropped from first to seventh place in "networked readiness" rankings of global economies released this week by the World Economic Forum (WEF.)

Leveraging a progressive regulatory framework coupled with advanced educational measures, Denmark catapulted into first place, followed in order by Sweden, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

"Denmark had a very clear vision dating back to 1996," said Irene Mia, co-author of the report, in an interview. "Denmark began giving access to the Internet to kids in 1992, for instance."

Mia, senior economist of the WEF's Global Competitiveness Network, indicated that Denmark has been executing its e-competition effectively since the mid-1990s when it began deregulating its telecommunications industry ahead of other European Community countries. She added that Denmark -- and other countries in the top-tier of the survey -- was aided also by an intelligent use of telecommunications and technology regulations and by independent judiciary environments. The leading nations also tended to feature governments that involved industry in advancing their high tech agendas.

The WEF report was produced in cooperation with INSEAD, a major graduate business school based in France. Cisco Systems sponsored the report.

The WEF report was the second major study released this week that found the U.S. has been losing its competitive edge in technology.

While the U.S. dropped in the WEF study, Mia noted that the nations in the top-tier were closely packed with little data separating them. She said the report, which examined a broad range of data and polled leading U.S. executives, indicated that the "quality of public institutions could be better" in the U.S. Mia added that U.S. features strong points like leadership in innovation and venture capital.

In addition to "its primacy in innovation, driven by one of the world's best tertiary education systems and its high degree of cooperation with industry," U.S. financial markets and accessibility to venture capital make it relatively easy to start businesses, the report observed.

Mark Peshoff, Cisco's senior director of Executive Thought Leadership, said the WEF report can be an important tool in evaluating global technology. "'Technology readiness' may not yet resonate as much as 'gross national product' or 'human development index' when it comes to evaluating the potential of a nation," he said in an e-mail, "but it is nevertheless rapidly becoming a vital tool for economists, public sector planners, and corporate workers alike."

He said that Cisco has pinpointed five characteristics that should be considered in leveraging technology by nations and organizations: convergence, virtualization, simplicity, open standards and security.

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