What Makes Cities Attractive to Innovators?
How do we evaluate the contribution of innovations to urban development? Why do cities need innovation? How do cities attract top talents? These and many other questions were addressed by the participants of the international online discussion ‘Increasing the Innovation Attractiveness of Global Cities: Best Practices’ organised by the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (HSE ISSEK) on March 1, 2023. The event also featured the presentation of new outcomes of a global study on urban innovation carried out since 2020.
Cities have always been a focal point of scientific knowledge, ground-breaking technologies, and entrepreneurial and creative prosperity. HSE ISSEK studied 200 cities worldwide that stand out in terms of attracting top talents. The HSE Global Cities Innovation Index (HSE GCII) research project presents a holistic approach to assessing the innovation potential of cities by combining technological development, creative industries, and the urban environment of a city.
The quantitative assessment of various factors that contribute to attracting global innovators to cities uses a system of 74 indicators and is based on data derived from verifiable international sources recognised by the expert community.
The outcomes of the research project were presented by Evgeniy Kutsenko, Director of the ISSEK Russian Cluster Observatory.
‘We have been measuring city-level innovations since 2020 and are developing our own approach that embraces technological innovation, creative industries, and the urban environment. Our approach uses non-statistical indicators that help us compare the levels of innovation development in cities in different countries. Our information resources are international aggregators, rankings, and databases on technology and creativity leaders. The world of innovation is extremely heterogeneous: innovation centres are similar in terms of urban environment quality, but are drastically different in terms of technology development. The gap of creative industry development is even bigger.’
Ozcan Saritas, Head of the ISSEK Laboratory for Science and Technology Studies, emphasised that ‘Innovations are not only about products, but about their creators and their interaction. The hardest thing is to evaluate the contribution of innovations to city development and the effectiveness of innovations at large.’
HSE University has addressed the major research challenge of providing an objective evaluation of innovation development in cities. Unlike most rankings of urban innovation development, HSE GCII relies not only on invention and publication statistics for city residents and various environment indicators—it also uses a unique database of innovation leaders. This database includes the biggest corporations, leading research centres, start-ups and unicorn businesses that populate the city, together with leaders in creative industries such as cinema, animation, music, video games, fashion, etc.
The main advantage of such a database is that the evaluations of all cities are comparable.
This would be impossible using national statistics due to the differences in statistical systems across countries.
Joe Ravetz, Co-Director of the Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy, University of Manchester, spoke about the conceptual framework of innovation: ‘Innovators should understand their reasons to be in a certain city. Innovators are born to be global, but at the same time, they are closely tied to the place where they live and work. The development of urban innovation is synchronised with the evolution of network interactions within the city. Depending on the stage of development, there are linear, evolutionary, and co-evolutionary cities, where the density of interactions between different actors is the highest. Such cities are the most successful at innovation.’
Another participant of the discussion, Mohamed Ramadan A. Rezk, Director of the Egyptian Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory, Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, emphasised the role of creative industries in innovation and the importance of social innovation. ‘In innovation measurement, we should remember the essential problem—how can we develop innovation? Where will we find resources for this purpose?’ he said.
Yunjie Sun, Professor at the Institute of S&T Foresight and Statistics, Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED) talked about the system of innovation measurement in China, where the focus is on knowledge generation and transfer.
A full version of HSE GCII 2023 will be presented to the research and expert community at the end of March 2023.