Spain’s digital competitiveness worsened in 2023 according to IMD ranking

- December 4, 2023

The IMD’s Global Competitiveness Centre has published the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking for 2023, showing a worrying setback for Spain this year. This ranking has been developed annually since 2017 and is becoming increasingly important in measuring the digital competitiveness of economies around the world.

Among the most relevant data, this year, Spain fell three positions in the ranking — from 28th place in 2022 to 31st in 2023.  Also noteworthy is the recovery of first place by the United States, which demonstrated solid results in all three factors. Denmark, number one last year, dropped to fourth, while the Netherlands came in second.

The WDCR 2023 studied 64 economies throughout this year. Three key factors were analyzed to determine each country’s digital competitiveness: knowledge, technology, and readiness for the future. The report indicates that the three points that were measured were divided into nine sub-factors, comprising a total of 54 criteria that are quantified through hard data and executive survey responses.

According to the experts’ analysis, the criteria that most compromise Spain’s current digital competitiveness are the use of “big data” and analytics (58th in the ranking), legislation related to scientific research (54th), knowledge transfer (44th), percentage of high-tech exports (43rd) and the number of science graduates (43rd).

While among the positives to highlight, the report indicates that Spain improved this year in certain key indicators, moving from 33rd to 31st place in the technology factor, and from 27th to 26th place in the knowledge factor.

Spain Overall Performance – IMD

“The IMD’s recent World Digital Competitiveness Ranking makes clear the challenges still ahead, and opportunities that remain, for Spain to become a digital leader,” said Jesús Tapia, Head of the IMPACT Accelerator program from ISDI Digital Business School. “What’s also clear is that we are regaining some ground that was lost during the pandemic in terms of digital knowledge and literacy. It is paramount that Spain remains focused on investing in educating our next leaders to be digital first.”

Access to technology a responsibility of government

For Arturo Bris, WCC Director, Professor of Finance, and Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, “Giving people access to technology and therefore making them reap the rewards of its benefits is primarily the responsibility of governments. Only when the necessary digital infrastructure and regulations are in place will private sector companies be able to develop solutions that improve our quality of life.”

Bris adds that “there is ample evidence in all our rankings that national competitiveness is the result of investment in education and the provision of the skills required by the labor market. When it comes to technology and artificial intelligence, the need is even greater.”

According to a recent report by the venture capital fund Atomico, Spanish startups will close in 2023 with almost 1,500 million euros raised in funding, 42% less compared to last year.

Many variables affected fundraising this year, but if we connect it with the IMD’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking, we find some connection between the two setbacks.

“We hope this year’s ranking will shed light on key factors that can help countries combine prosperity and economic development with digital transformation and the development of AI solutions, to create the digital nations of 2024 and beyond,” the report concluded.