Global Innovation Hubs report confirms UK’s position as an innovation powerhouse

Hickey & Associates, the international site location strategy and economic inventive advisor, has confirmed the UK’s position as an innovation powerhouse in its Global Innovation Hubs report. The new report reveals that UK cities make up 10 percent of the top 100 locations for scientific and technological advancement around the world.

The Hickey & Associates’ report ranks London as the most important location for innovation and business transformation in Europe, and sixth in the global ranking behind Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Beijing. The UK’s capital also ranks as a top 25 global hub for innovation within the biotechnology, innovation communication technologies (ICT) and pharmaceutical sectors.

While London tops the European list, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry and Nottingham were found to be in the European Top 50 spots for innovation, meaning that nearly a quarter of the best locations for innovation in the continent are in the UK.

Along with London, Oxford also ranks in the top 25 as a global hub for biotechnology and nanotechnology, as does Cambridge, which is recognised as being in the top 25 Innovation Hubs for medical science and pharmaceuticals. In the Northwest, Manchester & Liverpool are together acknowledged as one of the world’s top 25 locations for nanotechnology innovation.

Oxford and Cambridge also score highly for venture capital investment, the number of people working within R&D, the level of startup activity and the number of patents per capita. Overall, Leeds ranks highly thanks to the growth of venture capital funding in the city, which is highest in the UK.

Sheffield and Nottingham benefit from a cluster of nearby universities, which is a significant driver of innovation. While Edinburgh is further away from a concentration of universities, it performs due to its start-up culture and robust R&D expenditures. In addition to its strength in nanotechnology, the Manchester and Liverpool corridor does well in terms R&D investment.

In addition, London, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester and Liverpool are also highlighted as world leading locations in various specialist fields, including ICT, biotechnology, medical science, pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology.

“While the UK is already recognised as a leader for research and development in science and technology, the findings of our report identify the individual towns, cities and urban clusters that have the key characteristics and attributes that help support business transformation and drive innovation,” commented Hickey & Associates’ Guy Douetil, Managing Director EMEA.

“Using this information, it is possible to identify where established businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in certain sectors are most likely to thrive. Our report, and the global rankings it contains, are based on the presence of four characteristics. It is locations that boast these attributes where innovation flourishes, accelerates and drives economic growth. While these cities and clusters will become increasingly important as locations for business and commerce at a national and international level, it is also likely that many will become synonymous with particular industries and emerging technologies.”

The four major factors identified within Hickey & Associates’ research highlight that Global Innovation Hubs are:

  • Talent Magnets: Cities and markets that have a young and growing “millennial” population with a multi-national profile and which have a workplace culture that is vibrant and provides a good live/work/play culture.
  • Innovation & Transformation: Locations with a high concentration, frequency and number of startups and patents.
  • Learning & Collaborative Ecosystem: Towns, cities and metropolitan clusters that lead in research and development, often linked with universities and associated with business and academic networks that encourage and celebrate innovation and knowledge sharing.
  • Venture Capital Investment: Locations and markets that attract high levels of investment into businesses, start-ups and R&D.

“Our research is a result of our work as an international advisor on site location strategies. In order to help our clients identify where they should be locating or investing in their businesses, we have developed a tool that can identify the global destinations that will be most beneficial to their corporate aims,” added Jason Hickey, President of Hickey & Associates.

“What our findings underline is that international corporations need to look at factors other than simply cost when considering locations for business expansion. The hubs and clusters of innovation that we have identified will drive economic growth regionally, nationally and internationally in the next few decades. Certain locations will become focal points for very specific industry sectors with some countries and regions better placed than others.”