Innovation is an ever-moving target, and quantifying its existence can be incredibly difficult, especially on a large scale. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what Solidiance, an Asian marketing and innovation strategy consulting firm, is trying to do with its list of the most innovative cities in the Asia Pacific region.
As with every list of this kind, Solidiance’s listing needs to be taken with a hefty grain of salt. The rankings are based on scores in six categories—human talent, knowledge creation, technology, society (livability, tolerance), government (i.e. a favorable regulatory framework), global integration—which are all inspired by Richard Florida’s theories on the rise of the creative class and creative economies (specifically, that the "creative class" breeds economic growth and innovation). These are theories that have bred plenty of backlash over the years.
With all that in mind, here are Solidiance’s rankings.
Singapore takes the number one spot for dramatic improvements in the innovation climate over the last quarter century. Damien Duhamel, Managing Partner Asia of Solidiance, writes in the report: "Today, Singapore is bold, fast and successful—and Singapore Inc. will follow the same path. Singapore has no other choice; it must adapt, stay opened and lead change if it is to remain relevant in the 21st century."
This Australian city came in second for top scores in the areas of global
integration, technology advancement, human talent, and society values. Solidiance notes: "The ease of doing business is relatively high, allowing for innovation to prosper in the area.
Solidiance calls Melbourne "one of the most livable cities in the world" for its artistic vibe, creative architecture, "convenient lifestyle facilities," sports centers, and immigrant talent. The report explains says that "sectors like design, biotech, advanced manufacturing and engineering are booming, making Melbourne an innovative city supported by its strong knowledge-based economy."
Hong Kong is well-known as a manufacturing hub, but it’s more than that. According to Solidiance, the city’s entrepreneurial environment, "combined with Hong Kong’s traditional strengths of a transparent and consistent legal system, easy access to capital and free flow of information", make it an attractive business city. The area’s thick smog, however, is keeping it from reaching its full potential.
Auckland rounds out the top five for its open and tolerant attitude, education, growing film industry, and impressive sports facilities. The government is reportedly working hard on some of Auckland’s biggest issues, including "traffic problems and a poor public transportation system."
Surprisingly, Tokyo doesn’t make the top five, even though it ranks first in the Knowledge Creation category. The report notes that "the 'tolerance for failure’ and
'principle of self-sufficiency’ are the main reasons that Japanese electronics giants such as Sony, Sharp, Panasonic are losing the game against Korean rising stars. One could suggest that the Tokyo people have innovative ideas but cannot deliver in a manner that fits today’s global business arena."
Solidiance doesn’t give detailed descriptions on its reasoning behind the bottom four cities on the list, but the rest are below.
Full rankings in each category are available here.