Asian Cities Increasing in Influence as Science and Innovation Centers While Europe and North America Still Hold Sway, New Report Shows

AMSTERDAM, NL / ACCESSWIRE / April 13, 2021 / A joint report by the Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms and Elsevier, a global leader in research publishing and information analytics, shows that while Asian cities increase their innovative and economic footprint, their European and North American counterparts remain the power centers of science and innovation.

The report, “Data and Insights on International Science, Technology, and Innovation – Comparative Research Report of 20 Global Cities,” also highlights an increasingly diverse landscape of other Asian cities, beyond the power centers of Tokyo, Beijing, and Shanghai, showing rapid growth in the areas of academic output, academic excellence and knowledge transfer.

In a knowledge-driven economy, a city and region’s competitiveness are often driven by pools of talent and ideas originating from research and innovation, usually centered around the scientific activities of a city’s network comprising academic institutions and their ecosystem of industries, investors, government agencies and NGOs to translate knowledge into products and services.

To determine the innovation and competitiveness factor of each city, the report looks at the academic output and impact, researcher mobility, collaborations between academia and industry, and patent activity as proxies of research and innovation across 20 global cities based on several indicators over a five-year period between 2014 and 2018 (inclusive)1.

Findings of the report may contribute to discussions relating to regional and national strategies in terms of investment decisions in support of innovation and growth.

Selected highlights from the report

Human capital, international collaboration, and mobility:

  • The researcher population grew in 18 cities with the highest counts in Beijing, London, and Boston. Shenzhen has the fastest researcher population growth. Most Chinese cities in the study were among the top 10 cities in terms of researcher population growth, reflecting the result of China’s increasing efforts to cultivate, support, and boost its pool of researcher talent.
  • Hong Kong, Stockholm, and Singapore are the top three cities with the highest share of internationally collaborative publications at 64%, 62.4%, and 61.1%, respectively, well above the world average of 19.6%. Of the 20 cities, 19 have had increasing international collaboration over the past five years, except for Moscow.
  • In terms of mobility (i.e., researchers moving between locations), Paris, Shanghai, and Shenzhen have been attracting talent with the highest “inflow” as measured by share of researcher. In contrast, Beijing, Boston, and Berlin have the highest share of “outflow” researchers. Traditional research hubs – Boston, San Francisco, and London – continue to be the most popular destination for high-impact talent as measured by the normalized indicator of Field Weighted Citation Impact – FWCI2 – among the “inflow” of researchers.

Research strengths:

  • Beijing, New York, Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo were the top producers of scholarly output among the comparators, while Shenzhen, Boston, and Moscow showed the fastest growth with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.4%, 17.3%, and 15%, respectively.
  • While Asian cities lead in terms of scholarly output, their citation impact as measured by the normalized Field Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) indicator are lagging. San Francisco, Boston, Amsterdam, and Los Angeles are the top four cities with FWCIs at a value over 2.0, an indication that their normalized citation impact is twice that the global average.
  • San Francisco, Boston, and Amsterdam are among the global top 1% of most-cited publications based on share of research output. However, within the same period, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai have seen the fastest growth in research output among the top 1% of most-cited publications with a CAGR of 33%, 18%, and 13 %, respectively.

Knowledge transfer and innovation:

  • Despite a lag in academic output, Tokyo has the most patent applications within the study period – 1.11 million patents applied – as well as having the largest number of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) patent applications among the 20 cities. At 27.9%, Hong Kong has the highest growth of PCT patent applications, while Seoul leads the integrated ranking score of all its highly innovative companies.
  • San Francisco, New York, and Osaka are the top 3 cities with the largest share of publications written collaboratively between academia and industry at 10.7%, 8.6%, and 8.5% respectively. This is well above the world average of 2.7%. Amsterdam, Singapore, and Stockholm, on the other hand, have the highest growth rate of academic-corporate publications with a CAGR of 6.9%, 5.9%, and 5.1%, respectively.
  • While Boston has the largest number of patent references made to its scholarly output, San Francisco has the highest share in terms of having its publications referenced by patents.

Notes for editors

1 This report is based on the original report in Chinese with data up to 2018, co-published in late 2020 by Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms and Elsevier. After calculating the 2019 values for key indicators, Elsevier noted no major changes to the conclusions generated in the original report using 2014 – 2018 data.

2 Field-Weighted Citation Impact – FWCI is an indicator of mean citation impact and compares the actual number of citations received by a paper with the expected number of citations for publications of the same document type (article, review, or conference proceeding), publication year, and subject area. When the paper is classified in two or more subject areas, the harmonic mean of the actual and expected citation rates is used. The indicator is therefore always defined with reference to a global baseline of 1.0 and intrinsically accounts for differences in citation accrual over time, differences in citation rates for different document types (e.g., reviews typically attract more citations than research articles), as well as subject-specific differences in citation frequencies overall and over time and document types. It is one of the most sophisticated indicators in the modern bibliometric toolkit.

Journalists who wish to receive a copy of the full report can download it here.

Main methodology and definitions

Scholarly output

In this report, a city’s research output is defined as the number of publications published by authors with affiliations belonging to the city listed in Elsevier’s Scopus database.

Active researcher

An active researcher from a city is defined as a researcher having at least one publication indexed by Scopus with affiliations belonging to the city for the period between 2014 – 2018. Individual researchers were identified and counted based on their unique Scopus author IDs.

International collaboration

A publication with at least one author listing an affiliation in a country and at least one author listing an affiliation in another country counts as an internationally collaborated publication.

Academic-corporate collaboration

Academic-corporate collaboration is defined as those publications that have authors from both the academic and corporate sectors.

Patenting activity

The patent applications are defined as the number of patent applications from the China National Intellectual Property Administration, the European Patent Office, the Japan Patent Office, the South Korean Intellectual Property Office, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, including the applications of plant patents, utility patents, and design patents. In this report, the patent applications for a city are defined as the count of patent applications with the application address located in the city with the filling year between 2014 – 2018.

Citing-patents count

It is defined as count of patents citing the scholarly output published by authors from a city. In this report, the citing patents are from the European Patent Office, UK Intellectual Property Office, Japan Patent Office, United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.

About Us

About Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms

Shanghai R&D Public Service Platform Management Center (hereinafter referred to as “the Center”), established in November 2015, is a public institution directly under the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (STCSM), led by STCSM, to construct the Shanghai R&D public service platform (hereinafter referred to as “the R&D Platform”). The core goal of the Center is to build a science and technology innovation center with a global influence, to implement the project “Enable open access to national major scientific research infrastructure and large-scale scientific research equipment in Shanghai,” to agglomerate as well as to integrate science and technology resources, to fulfill the “Innovation Voucher” policy, to construct the Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation Resource Center, and to preserve the Shanghai Science and Technology Service Hotline. For more information, please visit:

About Elsevier

As a global leader in information and analytics, Elsevier helps researchers and healthcare professionals advance science and improve health outcomes for the benefit of society. We do this by facilitating insights and critical decision-making for customers across the global research and health ecosystems.

In everything we publish, we uphold the highest standards of quality and integrity. We bring that same rigor to our information analytics solutions for researchers, health professionals, institutions, and funders.

Elsevier employs 8,100 people worldwide. We have supported the work of our research and health partners for more than 140 years. Growing from our roots in publishing, we offer knowledge and valuable analytics that help our users make breakthroughs and drive societal progress. Digital solutions such as ScienceDirect, Scopus, SciVal, ClinicalKey, and Sherpath support strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and health education. Researchers and healthcare professionals rely on our 2,500+ digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell; our 40,000 eBook titles; and our iconic reference works, such as Gray’s Anatomy. With the Elsevier Foundation and our external Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board, we work in partnership with diverse stakeholders to advance inclusion and diversity in science, research, and healthcare in developing countries and around the world.

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  Jason Chan, Director  
Elsevier Communications, APAC  

SOURCE: Elsevier

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