Asia tops a global list of innovation hubs drawn up from the number of patents filed, but most other world regions don’t feature in the top 100, says a new World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) report.
China, Japan and Korea are among the seven countries with at least four hubs or ‘clusters’, which are based on the location of inventors.
The ranking was based on one million patent filings recorded between 2011 and 2015, and highlights the increasingly vital role local clusters play in fostering global innovation, says Kyle Bergquist, WIPO data analyst and report author.
“It is not sufficient to spend significant resources on research and development to rank as a top innovator.”Bruno Lanvin
“This research is the first step to identify where innovation is happening and it aims to recognise new, alternative models of innovation outside the classic Silicon Valley model,” he tells SciDev.Net.
“There is a clustering [effect] in innovation in the same ways cities form in countries and regions,” Bergquist explains. “The ranking aims to help guide researchers and policymakers to understand what drives innovation at the local level.”
The report finds that India, which WIPO has cited as an influence in its rethink of the annual innovation index, has three clusters — fewer than in those countries that top the list but more than other developing world regions.
"The top 100 does not feature any cluster from Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Northern Africa and Western Asia," write the authors in the report.
Japan’s Tokyo-Yokohama hub or ‘cluster’ leads the ranking (94,079 patent filings), followed by Shenzhen-Hong Kong (41,218 filings), San Jose-San Francisco (California's Silicon Valley) in the United States (34,324 filings), the Seoul cluster in South Korea (34,324 filings) and the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto cluster in Japan (23,512 filings).
High-performing Asian clusters submitted numerous patent filings in digital communication, computer technology and electrical machinery industries, according to the report. Private company researchers also filed more patents related to their industry applications than academic researchers.
“These big technology fields generally require patent filings as a strategic option for innovation and to protect intellectual property rights,” says Bergquist.
But patent filings are only one measure of innovation, Bergquist points out. WIPO plans to add more variables to fine tune its rankings, such as the cluster’s economic activity (based on satellite images of light maps), publication of patents filed in peer-reviewed journals, population density, research manpower and funding.
Bruno Lanvin, executive director for global indices at Singapore-based INSEAD and formerly with the World Economic Forum and World Bank, says “there is a strong need to focus on institutions, infrastructure and human capital” to promote regional cooperation, especially for smaller economies engaged in innovation.
“Innovation is not only a mindset but also an ecosystem. It is not sufficient to spend significant resources on research and development (public or private) to rank as a top innovator. Successful innovation is a combination of four elements: people, ideas, financial resources and markets,” explains Lanvin.
Of the four elements, talent is the most vital and countries with higher innovation capacity are those that funnel continuous investments into nurturing talent, adds Lanvin.
Top 10 Most Innovative Clusters Worldwide
|Rank||Cluster Name||Country||Number of Patent Filings||Largest Patent Applicant||Main Field of Technology (where patents are filed most by cluster|
|1||Tokyo-Yokohama Cluster||Japan||94,079||Mitsubishi Electric||Electrical, machinery, apparatus, energy|
|2||Shenzhen-Hong Kong (China) Cluster||China||41,218||ZTE Corporation||Digital communication|
|3||San Jose-San Francisco Cluster||US||34,324||Computer technology|
|4||Seoul Cluster||South Korea||34,187||LG Electronics||Digital communication|
|5||Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto Cluster||Japan||23,512||Murata Manufacturing||Electrical, machinery, apparatus, energy|
|6||San Diego, CA Cluster||US||16,908||Qualcomm||Digital communication|
|7||Beijing Cluster||China||15,185||BOE Technology Group||Digital communication|
|8||Boston-Cambridge MA Cluster||US||13,819||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Pharmaceuticals|
This article was published by SciDev.Net’s Asia & Pacific desk.