London leads Europe on innovation, says global report

London ranks as the most Europe’s most innovative city and placed second overall, according to the latest Global Innovation Hubs report from site selection consultancy HICKEY.

Internationally, only Boston outscored London, with the capital named the leading innovation hub in the EMEA region. Seven other UK city regions appeared in the top 25 for EMEA, the most from any single country: Edinburgh (9th); Sheffield (16th); Glasgow (17th); Manchester-Liverpool (18th); Oxford (19th); Leeds (21st); and Birmingham-Coventry (25th).

The report also revealed the Capital’s strengths in specific business spheres, with leading innovation hubs in: medical and pharmaceutical; ICT; fintech and aerospace.

As one of the world’s oldest and most well-established finance hubs, London has been acutely aware of the ability of technology to keep the finance sector at the forefront. Growth in fintech in London has been burgeoning in recent years, and the city is expected to quickly catch-up to its American counterparts. Fintech in London routinely competes with other industries for talent, and wages have increased for finance to have an edge. The demand for fintech innovation is so high, that major institutions are acquiring start-ups at an astounding rate.

Drawing on 40 years of site selection expertise, the HICKEY Global Innovation Hubs report identifies the international markets are leading the way in real business innovation and transformation. Seven distinct categories were identified and then weighted according to their significance, creating a comprehensive definition of what forms and sustains an innovative market. Patents, education, research and investment scores were the most significant.

Guy Douetil, EMEA managing director of Hickey, said: “London is a clear leader of the pack in the EMEA region-and is very much at the top of the global pile for innovation.”

“A whole range of factors feed into an innovative ecosystem, but at its heart this is a story about access to talent, capital and technological advances. With its internationally-renowned universities and traditional openness to new people and ideas, London has long been somewhere that has fostered innovation. Combined with the capital markets of the City and access to world-class professional services, the Capital has a winning formula for attracting the businesses and talent that drive innovation.

“But these are not advantages that can be taken for granted. Even a cursory glance across Europe and beyond shows city regions that are seeking to emulate the approach and make themselves the innovation hub of choice for the next generation. As the UK grapples with the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic and its departure from the EU, it is these innovation hubs that will drive future success, but only if their advantages continue to be properly understood and nurtured by public policy.”