Innovation happens on GitHub. Every day, developers contribute to open source infrastructure, build apps, power scientific research, and tinker on projects. Unfortunately, these contributions to innovation are often overlooked by researchers and policymakers. Legacy measures like patents and research papers do not adequately account for developers’ code-driven contributions to innovation. At GitHub, we’re working to make these consequential activities visible to the wider world. That’s why we’re excited that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has launched the 2022 edition of its Global Innovation Index (GII) with an indicator of developer creative outputs based on GitHub commits.

The WIPO GII compiles a basket of indicators to represent the innovation of economies around the world. The GII rankings help policymakers and businesses understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of innovation ecosystems in order to inform their decisions on policies and investments. The GII has run annually for 15 years, and this year it is expanding to include GitHub data for the first time.

The GitHub indicator represents developer creative outputs in an economy. It is defined as commit pushes received, scaled by working age population. Commit pushes received are assigned to the national economy where the recipient is located. This indicator thus recognizes economies where the code attracts global contributions, as opposed to economies where developers make contributions to external code bases. Scaling by working age population (15-69) enables comparisons across countries, and does not disadvantage economies with a vast youth population who are not yet old enough to become developers.

We’re committed to making developer innovation more visible and better understood. The WIPO Global Innovation Index is a great first step, but it is certainly not the last. We’ll continue to support researchers to expand work on the impact that developer communities have. We’re also interested in providing data to more indices that can inform policy. If you have feedback or ideas on how we can improve our indicators and identify new partners, please drop a comment in this issue. With your support, we can champion the innovation–too often overlooked–that developers contribute to everyday on GitHub.