Innovation Hotspots

From Beijing to Frankfurt to Silicon Valley and back again, companies are searching for their next innovation by tapping into scientists and inventors from across the globe.  As inventors and researchers collaborate to pursue innovation, they give rise to a global innovation network (GIN). Figuring out where these innovators are and connecting them opens the gateway to a vibrant, global innovation ecosystem.

Hotspots are highly dense innovative regions of the world that collaborate to push the global technological frontier. Not all businesses can move to these hotspots, but they can collaborate with them. By doing so, they tap into the GIN, enlarging the potential scope and scale of their innovative activities.

Where are the innovation hotspots?

Innovation hotspots tend to show up in mostly high-income, developed economies. In these economies, they tend to concentrate in highly urban areas geographically. Use our interactive tools to explore the areas of the world with the greatest density of innovative activity and to visualize networks of collaboration.

Why are innovation hotspots critical?

Decades of evidence based on the experience of high-income economies suggest an overall positive impact from tapping into an innovation network.

Firstly, innovation and economic growth tend to go hand-in-hand because technological development is the engine that propels countries to grow and achieve higher living standards.

Secondly, connecting to the global innovation network leads to more efficient and diverse knowledge production. Tapping into this network becomes more critical today against the backdrop of falling R&D productivity, where more and more R&D investments are needed to reach past technological progress levels.

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Innovation hotspot stories

Understanding the elements of what makes a region innovative, its characteristics, and its impact allows for sound policies to encourage innovation. Find out more through our innovation hotspot stories:

How do innovation hotspots come about?

Three three factors explain why innovative activities concentrate in certain parts of the world, namely cities:

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Skilled labor

Highly skilled people, such as engineers and scientists, tend to move to regions where there are other highly skilled people. One factor accounting for this concentration is the preference of highly qualified persons to move to places where there are opportunities to find high-paying careers and grow.

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Market scale

Market scale refers to the scale and scope of the different economic activities in a region. It refers to people, firms, research institutions, and the supporting infrastructure (for example transport and a high-speed internet connection) that would feed into the innovation ecosystem.

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Knowledge spillover

Innovative firms that locate in proximity with other innovative firms tend to be more productive. This is due to knowledge spillover. Simply put, knowledge spillover describes the process where technical information filters, or spills, from one firm to another.