Data and insights on international science, technology, and innovation

Comparative research report of 20 global cities

This report, prepared by Elsevier in collaboration with the Administrative Center of Shanghai R&D Public Service Platforms, measured the 20 selected global cities’ technological innovation competitiveness from the perspective of research and enterprise R&D activities by some key indicators in science, technology, and innovation. To assess research strength, we focused on researcher productivity, research output performance, researcher mobility, and researcher collaborations. To assess enterprise, we focused on innovation companies, patenting activities, and academic–corporate collaboration.

The cities included in the report are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, and Singapore from Asia; New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto from North America; and Berlin, London, Paris, Stockholm, Moscow, and Amsterdam from Europe.

Selected highlights from the report

As it is based on an earlier local report launched by the co-author, the report uses the time window of 2014–2018. However, Elsevier also calculated the key indicators’ values for 2019 and noted no major changes to the conclusions generated by the 2014–2018 data.

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 the share of inflow researchers. 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 (FWCI) 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 the 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.

The full report provides further details on the data for and insights into the research and innovation landscape for the 20 global cities. We hope that the report will spur further discussion on how science and technology contribute to the innovativeness of cities, by focusing on their strengths and identifying areas of potential development.

Data source:

SciVal offers quick and easy access to the research performance of over 10,000 research institutions and 230 regions and countries. Using advanced data analytics technology, SciVal processes enormous amounts of data to generate powerful visualizations in seconds. The 170 trillion metrics in SciVal are calculated from 46 million publication records published in the 21,915 journals of 5,000 publishers worldwide. Website: https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/scival

Scopus is Elsevier’s abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, covering 79.8 million documents from more than 24,272 active journals, 59,700 book series, and 10.2 million conference proceeding publications by 5,000 publishers.

Scopus coverage is multilingual and global: approximately 46% of the titles in Scopus are published in languages other than English (or published in both English and another language). In addition, more than half of Scopus content originates from outside North America, representing many countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

For this report, a static version of the Scopus database covering the period 2014–2018 inclusive was aggregated by city and region.

Patenting activity data used throughout this report are sourced from patent databases released by the China Intellectual Property Office, which include collections of patents from the China National Intellectual Property Office, the European Patent Office, Japan Patent Office, South Korean Intellectual Property Office, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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