Japan tops global innovation clusters, Iran ranks high

Japan tops global innovation clusters, Iran ranks high

Recognizing that innovation activities tends to geographically concentrate in specific clusters, this year’s Global Innovation Index ranks the world’s largest clusters of inventive activity, based on number of patents as well as scientific articles.

Tokyo–Yokohoma still comes out on top and continues to have a wide margin over second ranked Shenzhen–Hong Kong. Beijing—the cluster showing the greatest scientific publishing activity—rose in the rankings; San Diego, in turn, fell, reflecting its relatively weaker publishing performance. The New York cluster rose to eighth place; this largely reflects an expansion of the cluster to include the Princeton, NJ area.

Eindhoven—the home of Philips Electronics— shows a relatively strong patenting performance far out of line with its relatively weak scientific publishing performance. At the other extreme, Tehran excels in scientific publishing activity, but shows relatively weak patenting output. Other clusters located in middle-income countries also show comparatively stronger scientific publishing performance and did not feature in last year’s top 100. These include, for example, Ankara, Changchun, Delhi, Harbin, Hefei, Istanbul, São Paulo, and Xi’an.

The top 100 features clusters from 28 economies The U.S., with 26 clusters, accounts for the highest number, followed by China (16), Germany (8), the United Kingdom (4), and Canada (4). Interestingly, there are only three Japanese clusters in the top 100, even if those three are the top-ranked Tokyo–Yokohama cluster and the highly ranked Osaka–Kobe-Kyoto and Nagoya clusters. In addition to China, there are clusters from five middle-income countries— Brazil, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, and Turkey—in the top 100.

Top sectors in clusters

Compared with last year, there is a shift in the distribution of top patenting fields. In particular, pharmaceuticals is now the most frequent top patenting field; it features as the top field in 22 clusters. Because pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) relies heavily on scientific input, the incorporation of scientific publications has led to the inclusion of clusters with vibrant scientific activity in this field. Pharmaceuticals is followed by digital communications and medical technology, which were the top two patenting fields last year; this year they each feature in 16 clusters.

Looking at the top fields of scientific publishing, the prominence of the life sciences is even more pronounced. Chemistry features as the top field in 36 clusters, even if not all chemistry research necessarily relates to the life sciences. In addition, the top science field in another 34 clusters relates to either medical research or pharmaceuticals. Engineering and physics are the remaining top technology fields, with 15 and 12 clusters each, respectively.

There is some correspondence between the top science field and the top patenting field. For example, both Shenzhen–Hong Kong and Seoul feature engineering as the top science field and digital communication as the top patenting field. Similarly, for Washington, DC–Baltimore, MD, oncology as the top science field relates to pharmaceuticals as the top patenting field. However, there are many cases for which the two fields do not seem to correspond. More generally, the top science field accounts for less than 10% of all scientific publications in most clusters, and the shares of the top science fields are typically below those of the top patenting fields. This suggests that clusters’ scientific activities are more diverse than their patenting activities.

Regional cluster maps

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