The world is a whirlpool of permanent transformation resulting from the digital revolution and standing still is a threat to survival. In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovation has become a necessity and many businesses already consider it central to their strategy. According to Forbes magazine, innovation is vital for companies because it allows them to penetrate markets quicker, create original concepts, and grow more easily.
But innovation is not only vital in the business world. Today it is also fundamental for the success of a city. The combination of innovation and talent in cities creates higher productivity and greater long-term economic growth. Likewise, cities that combine these two characteristics are also more resilient in the face of economic/financial crises.
According to the Innovation Geographies report, which analyses which are the most innovative cities and those with the highest concentration of talent in the world, the main indicators to assess the level of innovation in a city are: Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in hi-tech industries, levels of venture capital, expenditure on Investment and Development, and the number of international patent applications.
Other main indicators to take into account to measure the concentration of talent present in a city are: quality of higher education, standard of education among the population, percentage of population between the ages of 20 and 40, and percentage of jobs in hi-tech industries. In San Francisco, considered to be the most innovative city in the world, and in similar cities elsewhere, a strange paradox is occurring whereby real-estate speculation as a result of the boom is beginning to affect accessibility to housing for that age range.
According to the above criteria, JLL has determined that the ten most innovative cities in the world are:
1. San Francisco (U.S.A.)
This is the city that is home to the greatest number of startups in the world. Furthermore, some of the most prestigious universities internationally are based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
2. Tokyo (Japan)
This city produces the highest number of patents in the world. Likewise, it also leads the field in different technologies, from electrical machinery to nano-technology. And it is the headquarters of the greatest number of multinational corporations, like Sony, SoftBank and Toyota.
3. Singapore (Republic of Singapore)
This city is growing in terms of the number of startups and is an important hub for R&D. It is also the world's top destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in hi-tech industries.
4. Beijing (China)
Beijing has a well-entrenched ecosystem of innovation, which has spawned most of the unicorn companies outside Silicon Valley, and it is the world's third highest destination for venture capital finance. Similarly, it is the seventh city in the world for patent applications.
5. London (United Kingdom)
Almost 15% of its labour force is employed in hi-tech. London also occupies the top position in the world as regards concentration of talent, thanks to its first-class universities and highly-educated workforce.
6. San José (U.S.A.)
San José is the center of Silicon Valley. The large concentration of high-technology engineering, computer, and microprocessor companies around San Jose has led the area to be known as Silicon Valley. Area schools such as the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Santa Cruz, San Jose State University, San Francisco State University, California State University, East Bay, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University pump thousands of engineering and computer science graduates into the local economy every year. San Jose residents produce more U.S. patents than any other city.
7. Paris (France)
Paris is one of the most attractive European capital for start-ups and investors. Its sectors of excellence in the field of healthcare, industry, finance and digital technology give it international prestige and the reputation of a major business hub.
8. New York (U.S.A.)
New York is the second-largest startup ecosystem in the world and a superstar city of jobs using digital technology, New York hosts many of these spaces. Numbers vary according to who is counting, but both city government officials and organizations that represent the tech “community” claim the city has more than 9,000 startups and between 150,000 and 300,000 tech workers, half of whom work in non-tech companies. There are 70 tech accelerators, some specializing in fields like health or finance, 44 coding schools, and more than 500 programs for tech training and education. While Big Tech titans like ‘Amazon, Google and Facebook’ are expanding their footprint in Manhattan, each by one million square feet, a recent study showed the Brooklyn waterfront to be the second-fastest-growing “innovation economy” in the United States.
9. Boston (U.S.A.)
One can hardly talk about Boston without addressing the city’s renowned knowledge institutes. The city and its surrounding areas account for over 50 institutes, with Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology being world-class. These knowledge institutes alone already deliver a staggering amount of talent. The center of the city is currently home to over 500 Bostonian startups and is often referred to as the most innovative square mile on the planet and Kendall Square is Boston’s main startup hub. Next to having all the tech giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook present, the Cambridge Innovation Center is located here as well.
10. Seoul (South Korea)
Seoul has been supporting a series of community spaces where residents, neighborhood, youth, and social entrepreneurs can convene, network, and share ideas. In this regard, Seoul has built a big innovation complex called Seoul Innovation Park where innovative players (entrepreneurs, not-for-profit organizations, youth and experts) can develop collaborative partnerships to promote innovative activities. Over 200 stakeholders are actively working at the 'Youth Hub', 'Social Economy Support Centre’, and 'Local Community Support Centre' inside the Park.