The myth of the isolated scientist toiling away in obscurity, tucked away in a lab someway innovating and inventing on his own is just that – a myth.
The truth is that innovation is a group effort. It comes about because of yes, brilliant minds during pure research, but also a collaborative team that can generate new ideas, build structures and systems around them, and bring them out to market.
Today’s innovation is less like the “scientist in a lab” model and more like an engaged, connected and supportive hub of people generating something together in ways that are changing the physical landscape of work. All over the world, we are starting to see technology innovation hotspots emerging, concentrations of talent, resources and environmental advantages – often in support of a new type of technology or industry.
So while virtual communities and online hubs have an important role to play in connecting people and encouraging collaboration and open, global dialogue and innovation, physical location is important, and insightful government, academic and business leaders are noticing and finding ways to attract and sustain innovation.
Here’s 6 innovation hotspots that we think are doing it right:
Paris is not just overflowing with exquisite wine and romantic cafes – these days it is also overflowing with cutting-edge innovation.
Station F, the world’s largest startup campus (with over 3000 startup desks), recently chose central Paris as the home for their 34,000 square metre location. Vowing to make France a “startup nation”, the French government is going all in with their support of technology based startups. They recently announced a 1.8 billion dollar public fund for investment in artificial intelligence, and a €200 million fund dedicated to the support of healthcare startups.
Substantial capital availability, government investment funds and research tax credits, highly-trained local talent, a reputation for excellence in scientific research, and a recent influx of new businesses? Viva la France!
Singapore is not only a beautiful modern city with the highest quality of living ranking in Asia – it’s also spent the last several decades redefining itself as an innovation hotspot.
The government of Singapore has a remarkable understanding of open innovation – it offers tax incentives, public/private partnerships, transparent and consistent laws and regulations, investment incentives and invests heavily in STEM funding (making it a prime environment for new startups searching for an impressive talent pool).
Singapore is often thought of as a gateway linking Asian economies with Europe and North America (it sits right on the crossroad of three of the world’s economic growth engines—China, India and Southeast Asia, is committed to forward-looking, trade centred policies and has signed 22 free trade agreements to date). A robust supply-chain infrastructure, a connected, open trading network, and a transportation hub combine to make Singapore an attractive location option for emerging startups looking to make a global impact and open into Asian markets.
It is particularly appealing to startups in fintech or in the life sciences – Singapore is a regional leader in fintech investments (hitting $US 365 million last year), and the government has invested billions in developing and investing in the life sciences/pharmaceutical industry.
With a long-held reputation as secure financial centre, (the city is actually built on top of hidden gold vaults), and enjoying a post Olympic games economic resurgence, London remains prominent in the startup scene. With estimates of over 150 co-working spaces in London, it is rapidly shedding its staid, traditional image for a more vibrant, youthful and entrepreneurial one. The UK is also outpacing other European countries in terms of funding technology startups – its early-stage companies have attracted over $120 billion in investment capital over the past ten years.
As the home of the television powerhouse BBC, London has a vibrant entertainment industry, and has evolved into an hub for AdTech, VR/AR, and video game development. Boosted by tax breaks and big-name investments (Sony, Warner Bros., Electronic Arts), the city is well positioned to compete as a world-player in the rapidly evolving world of high tech and gaming.
4. Tel Aviv
From making lab-grown meat to its record breaking solar power production, Israel is home to some astounding scientific innovations and achievements. Tel Aviv, often described as the Silicon Valley of Israel, was recently voted one of the top innovation hotspots by the New York Times.
Israeli universities have taken the lead in developing a strong link between academia and industry. Their technology transfer and commercialization processes are considered to be among the best in the world, and have generated billions of dollars in spin-off companies, innovative products and new technologies. The city also boasts a highly-educated talent pool – 46% of the country’s adults have completed postsecondary education, with half of them majoring in STEM subjects.
Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.”
Well, Napoleon, she’s awake.
Alibaba and Amazon are in a head-to-head battle for dominance in the ecommerce space. TenCent (a gaming/messaging platform) is more valuable than Facebook.
Home to over 9000 tech companies in fields such as AI, robotics, clean energy, and cloud computing, Beijing has emerged as an incubator for innovation.
With strong government support in the form of tax breaks and funding, Beijing is a hotbed of tech innovation, and growing at a pace that is hard to fathom – some estimate there are 80 tech startups launched per day in the high tech incubation hubs at the centre of the city.
Vancouver is the smallest city on the list, and perhaps the most ‘emerging’. But like Beijing, she is awakening.
Not only is it a beautiful location nestled between snow-capped mountains and the Pacific Ocean and only 50km north of the US border, it is culturally diverse, environmentally aware, and connected to the vast markets of Asia via its shipping ports.
And the low-carbon energy transition that’s coming will not happen without the support of the digital/data revolution. Vancouver is also the home of a digital supercluster, and, in a world where programmers and developers are in short supply, has developed a reputation as a place that can (and does) attract top talent from all over the world.
What happens when a digital supercluster meets an emerging cleantech hub in a progressive, green, and culturally diverse city?
It becomes an innovation hotspot to watch out for ….
Location matters not because of romantic cafes and beautiful beaches (although those are nice to have), but because business, political and academic leaders got together and designed their cities to support innovation. Each of these cities is doing it right in a variety of ways – facilitating access to diverse talent, providing government support in the form of tax breaks and R&D funding, creating networking opportunities, developing excellent technology transfer programs, and ensuring access to research and training institutions.
In the past centuries great cities emerged because of their locations next to trade routes, seaports or river junctions. Today’s great centres of innovation and trade, today’s great cities, are less dependent on physical location, and are more about creating smart, strategic, collaborative environments.
Environments where your whole team can thrive.
At Foresight Cleantech, we are shifting the narrative on the innovation cycle – enabling companies to tap into diverse perspectives and talent to solve problems faster, more cost-effectively and with less risk.
Foresight’s Industry Challenge programs accelerate the commercialization of technology that could provide significant benefits in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy security and creating new opportunities in industrial innovation.
If you’re looking for faster innovation, improved business performance, and a thriving cleantech sector, contact us today.