15 Apr 2021   |   Network Updates   |   Update from Elsevier / RELX
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Elsevier: Report shows Asian cities increasing in influence as science and innovation centers while Europe and North America still hold sway


A joint report by the Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms and Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, shows that while Asian cities increase their innovative and economic footprint, their European and North American counterparts remain the power centers of science and innovation.

The report, “Data and Insights on International Science, Technology, and Innovation – Comparative Research Report of 20 Global Cities”, also highlights an increasingly diverse landscape of other Asian cities, beyond the power centers of Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai, showing rapid growth in the areas of academic output, academic excellence and knowledge transfer.

In a knowledge-driven economy, a city and region’s competitiveness are often driven by pools of talent and ideas originating from research and innovation, usually centered around the scientific activities of a city’s network comprising academic institutions and their ecosystem of industries, investors, government agencies and NGOs to translate knowledge into products and services.

To determine the innovation and competitiveness factor of each city, the report looks at the academic output and impact, researcher mobility, collaborations between academia and industry, and patent activity as proxies of research and innovation across 20 global cities based on several indicators over a five-year period between 2014 and 2018 (inclusive)1.

Findings of the report may contribute to discussions relating to regional and national strategies in terms of investment decisions in support of innovation and growth.

Selected highlights from the report

Human capital, international collaboration and mobility:  

  • The researcher population grew in 18 cities with the highest counts in Beijing, London and Boston. Shenzhen has the fastest researcher population growth. Most Chinese cities in the study were among the top 10 cities in terms of researcher population growth, reflecting the result of China’s increasing efforts to cultivate, support and boost its pool of researcher talent.
  • Hong Kong, Stockholm and Singapore are the top three cities with the highest share of internationally collaborative publications at 64%, 62.4%, and 61.1% respectively, well above the world average of 19.6%. Of the 20 cities, 19 have had increasing international collaboration over the past five years, except for Moscow.
  • In terms of mobility, (i.e., researchers moving between locations), Paris, Shanghai and Shenzhen have been attracting talent with the highest “inflow” as measured by share of researcher. In contrast, Beijing, Boston and Berlin have the highest share of “outflow” researchers. Traditional research hubs – Boston, San Francisco and London – continue to be the most popular destination for high-impact talent as measured by the normalized indicator of Field Weighted Citation Impact – FWCI2 – among the “inflow” of researchers.

Research strengths:

  • Beijing, New York, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo were the top producers of scholarly output among the comparators, while Shenzhen, Boston and Moscow showed the fastest growth with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4%, 17.3% and 15%, respectively.
  • While Asian cities lead in terms of scholarly output, their citation impact as measured by the normalized Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) indicator are lagging. San Francisco, Boston, Amsterdam and Los Angeles are the top four cities with FWCIs at a value over 2.0, an indication that their normalized citation impact is twice that the global average.
  • San Francisco, Boston and Amsterdam are among the global top 1% of most cited publications based on share of research output. However, within the same period, Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai have seen the fastest growth in research output among the top 1% of most cited publications with a CAGR of 33%, 18% and 13 % respectively.

Knowledge transfer and innovation:

  • Despite a lag in academic output, Tokyo has the most patent applications within the study period – 1.11 million patents applied – as well as having the largest number of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications among the 20 cities. At 27.9%, Hong Kong has the highest growth of PCT patent applications while Seoul leads the integrated ranking score of all its highly innovative companies.
  • San Francisco, New York and Osaka are the top 3 cities with the largest share of publications written collaboratively between academia and industry at 10.7%, 8.6% and 8.5% respectively. This is well above the world average of 2.7%. Amsterdam, Singapore and Stockholm, on the other hand, have the highest growth rate of academic-corporate publications with a CAGR of 6.9%, 5.9%, and 5.1% respectively.
  • While Boston has the largest number of patent references made to its scholarly output, San Francisco has the highest share in terms of having its publications referenced by patents.

This article was first published on 13 April by Elsevier.

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