Many Asian cities are known for their advances in technology, culture, and society, but which cities are the most innovative?
Solidiance, a marketing strategy and consulting firm in Asia, compiled a list of the 16 Most Innovative Cities in Asia Pacific.
To create this list, they looked at six categories: human talent, knowledge creation, technology, society, government, and global integration. They gave each city a score for each category and tallied up the scores to create the final ranking.
Damien Duhamel, the main author of the research and a Managing Partner at Solidiance, provided us with exclusive commentary on each city. Duhamel’s commentary is quoted in each slide.
Overall Ranking: 0.18
India's capital city scored higher in the society category with a score of 0.046, but remained at the bottom of the list in the other five categories.
'New Delhi has gone many dramatic changes through different regimes, yet its recent crime case of gang rape still leaves a trace on top of our mind when talking about the city. Of course it takes more than low crime rate to catalyze innovation in the city, but there is actually a ripple effect that could be caused later on. The city also has a really low level of global integration and orientation towards future, so there is no other choice for New Delhi to really start transforming itself to be a city that is inclusive -- not exclusive,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.20
Mumbai ranked in the middle of the society category, but scored low in the remaining five categories, earning it last place in this ranking.
'Mumbai is ranked poorly in our report, although many may argue that Indian people are regularly contributing to many innovation products worldwide. What happens is they opt to leave the city to thrive elsewhere, because the city doesn't have what it needs to make them stay, in terms of business and life amenities such as security and stability. The entrepreneurial seeds aren't planted well due to underdeveloped institutional framework, which blocks new and original ideas to propagate in the city,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.22
Shanghai scored in the middle of the global integration and knowledge creation categories, but scored poorly in the other four categories.
'Shanghai is living proof that human talent quantity doesn't always guarantee high innovation production. Shanghai's amazing city infrastructure, life facilities and industrial R&D centres are apparent, but its lack of creativity to generate original notions hinders it from being innovative. Shanghai is doing good in adopting other cities' prominence but innovation isn't done through copy-paste method -- it involves acceptance towards various ideas and better educational system provided by the supportive government,' Duhamel said.
Regional Ranking: 0.22
Beijing scored steadily towards the bottom of all six categories, but did slightly better in the knowledge creation, technology, and human talent categories.
'The fact that Beijing scores poorly on Society category is not a surprise when its society mainly constitutes of locals/Chinese -- lowering the opportunity of enrichment resulted from the exchange of different ideas. Beijing also sees the idea to foster innovation from the wrong angle. The city is focusing on the attempt to extract the technology advancement from foreign firms through the R&D centres based there, while they should be focusing on creating an optimal and friendly environment to spawn world-class innovators instead,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.34
Bangkok scored first in the society category, with a score of 0.075. The Thai capital also scored relatively high in the human talent category.
'Bangkok is all about vibrant culture and its welcoming society -- its openness towards diverse inputs has granted it mountainous perks. Bangkok is seen as one of the promising producers of advertising, movie, and other creative industry. However, creativity doesn't always lead to innovation, and Bangkok still needs to mainly improve their educational support as it ranks really low compared to all of the categories,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.37
Malaysia's capital city did well in the global integration, society, and government categories.
'Being located nearly to Singapore, the peer pressure is a common thing that Kuala Lumpur frequently needs to overcome. There will be even a high-speed rail linked to Singapore by 2020, and whether this could bring any significant change to Kuala Lumpur, the result remains to be seen. The society is racially diverse, but they fundamentally position themselves towards Muslim values, and this needs to be taken into account. Innovation entails freedom of expression and a mixture of different perspective, and this is what the city is lagging on,'
Overall Ranking: 0.40
No single aspect of Taipei, Taiwan, stood out, with the city scoring in the middle of every category.
'Taipei unfortunately did not successfully stick out of the Asian crowds in our report like the Taipei 101 does. High density is not a huge problem as the city dwellers are fairly dispersed in the area through highly connected transportation system. Many entrepreneurial incentives started by the government makes it really easy to start a business there -- almost as easy as in Singapore. However, the city hasn't set distinct goal to be the most innovative in the region yet, but the slight intention is implied -- Taipei is the second city in Asia to host TEDx event, aiming to showcase the sound of innovation in the country,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.49
South Korea's second-largest city took the number two spot in the knowledge creation category, with a score of 0.12. It also scored high in the technology category.
'When Pusan doesn't appear in the top five of our ranking, we cannot ignore the irony of the 'Innovative City' branding that the city has been striving to leverage with the presence of its three innovation districts and a multi-dwelling residential area. What's also interesting here is Pusan has the second-best knowledge creation in the Asia Pacific region and yet scores the eighth on the human talent category. This may have something to do with its society where they are providing poor level of variety and tolerance towards diversity,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.51
The Japanese city took the number four spot in the knowledge creation category, with a score of 0.12. However, it scored low in the society category with a score of 0.03.
'We all remember how during its young age, Osaka created innovative economic ecosystem like wholesale system, money changing business and futures trade. However, the prosperity it had caused may have also created a severe fear of failure, resulting a strong propensity towards suicide in the city. Regardless of being affiliated with Melbourne as its 'sister city' (citizen-based connection in sports, science, culture, education and commerce), it is only on government and regulatory framework where Osaka's able to sit next to its Australian 'sibling',' Duhamel said.
Regional Ranking: 7
South Korea's capital city took the number three spot in the knowledge creation category, with a score of 0.12
'Among all of the measured categories, Seoul did best in Knowledge Creation. The city presumed that a well-educated work force with high motivation would produce low cost, high-quality goods to fit ready markets. They constitute promising talents trusted for future R&D, which is an area that the city seems to be focusing on, considering the generous amount of funds spent for it. Korea has improved really rapidly lately with its world class technology brand, and this shall be at least a good start to leverage the city's universal relevance in the next future,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.55
The capital of Japan took the top spot in the knowledge creation category. It also scored high in the human talent category.
'When it comes to knowledge creation, Tokyo outsmarts other players unequivocally. But cleverness surely can't be the only weapon forever, although the city has also done well in the green sector by being the most sustainable city in Asia Pacific. The brilliance in the technology area Tokyo used to have, has now been outperformed by Korean cities. However, it takes risk takers to turn a city to be innovative, and Tokyo people don't have quite the right guts yet,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.62
Auckland ranked high in the government, human talent, and global integration categories. Australia's most populous city has a high quality of life, and as a result, draws talent from around the world.
'Auckland's natural amenities supported with proper leisure facilities have served it well in the tourism sector and livability level. The government plays it easy, the society opens up to various diversities and opportunities. While other regions around New Zealand grew their agricultural sector, Auckland focused on its seaport and manufacturing instead. However, the firms in the city are more inclined to focus on market innovation instead of managerial innovation, due to its geographical circumstances (distance and size),' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.64
Hong Kong took the number one spots in both the government and technology categories. The modern city has thrived under low taxation, a highly capitalistic economy, and a diverse population.
'Frequently regarded as a preferred business location, Hong Kong takes pride in its Chinese heritage while learning many lessons from the British colonization, enriching itself with knowledge and innovation wealth. Thanks to Cyberport, technology is now an area where the city has successfully striven to excel -- but to retain its overall status quo may not be a clever way for optimal improvement and economic growth. The pace is hastening as other cities started to emulate ways of Hong Kong's innovation, thus it needs to reinvent new ones so it would not have to forfeit the game,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.65
The second-most populous city in Australia took the number one spot in the human talent category. It also scored high in the technology, global integration, and society categories. Melbourne excels in the biotech, design, and engineering fields, which attests to the high quality of human talent.
'Melbourne is an actual proof of a successful combination between creativity and sophistication. The city excels in technology, manufacturing, as well as artsy spirit -- granting itself a prime quality of human talent. Easy living in Melbourne is no longer a startling fact when the government is dependable and supportive towards diversity. However, all of the perks that the city indulges itself with may also seem to be narrowing its broader opportunities. Melbourne may enjoy being covertly prominent in the region too much, so its current state may even hinder the endeavours made to battle with other cities towards global competition and win it in the end,' Duhamel said.
Overall Ranking: 0.67
Sydney took the number two spot in the human talent, technology, society, and global integration categories. Australia's most-populous city is known for its openness to immigrants.
'Sydney's consistency in achieving the 2nd rank on 4 out of 6 categories measured is indeed impressive. Its openness towards diversity is underpinned by the government's support through, among others, fair regulatory framework and advanced technology. The business amenity is high, embracing the already existing entrepreneurial spirit that the citizens uphold. Rounding it up with the human talent that's being produced and nurtured, Sydney's appearance at the second spot comes as a crystal clear result of the incorporation of all of its perks,' Duhamel said.
Regional Ranking: 0.68
Singapore took the top spot in the global integration category, but also scored high in the government category.
The tiny city-state has gone from a swamp to a trading port for spices to a manufacturing centre. Now it's a global high-tech leader.
'Singapore's renowned stern regulation isn't actually the one that boosts it to the peak of the list; but its global integration is. The amount of glitterati and foreign executives that opted to do business in the city-state is proof that Singapore has an irresistible appeal with a safe, stable ecosystem (financially and politically) that enables it to be connected to many global opportunities. Singapore is also at the top 5 of almost every category measured, except society -- which explains its currently blazing endeavours to set up art and culture scenes seen almost everywhere in the city,' Duhamel said.
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