Relatively few countries possess all the factors necessary to support a thriving information technology sector, but the United States, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom provide the strongest environments for IT competitiveness, a new study concludes.

As reflected in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 'IT industry competitiveness index', these factors include an ample supply of skills, an innovation-friendly culture, world-class technology infrastructure, a robust legal regime and well-balanced government support, not to mention a competition-friendly business environment. Those countries possessing most of these 'competitiveness enablers' are also home to high-performance IT industries: all but four of the top 22 countries in the Economist Intelligence Unit index are also among the world's top countries in terms of IT labour productivity.

On the strength of its unique combination of scale and quality in the key areas that promote IT competitiveness, the US tops the index table. Asia-Pacific countries are well-represented, with Japan, South Korea and Australia among the top five index performers, and the UK heads the ranks of European countries, closely followed by Sweden and Denmark. All, however, face stark challenges in the effort to remain competitive: chief among them are ensuring a steady supply of talent for the industry, and securing the right level of support from government to promote competition and innovation.

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