Hong Kong fails to rank amongst the world's top innovative cities

Although it ranks high in tertiary education, the city’s R&D and patent generation investments fell short.

Hong Kong failed to crack the top 20 innovative cities rankings, with its research, developments and patent generation investments falling short of its regional peers, a report by JLL revealed.

The Innovation Geographies report, which looks at factors such as talent pool, investment in high-tech industries, and research and development expenditure, revealed that despite ranking highly for tertiary education with a number of well-respected universities, Hong Kong came up short for employment in high-tech sectors given its niche focus on finance, professional services and law.

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“On the innovation side, Hong Kong performs well when it comes to attracting foreign direct investment into high-tech industries as well as venture capital funding. However, the city does not perform well in spending on research and development as well as patent generation,” Denis Ma, head of research at JLL in Hong Kong, highlighted. “In comparison, Shenzhen, a major innovation hub in Asia located just across the border, was second globally for patent applications.”

Also read: Here's why tech tenants are ditching Hong Kong for Bangalore and Singapore

Taking the top spot in the rankings was San Francisco with its world-leading startup scene. Asian cities also moved up the innovation rankings, with Tokyo, Singapore and Beijing amongst the top five most innovative cities globally, and Seoul rounding off the top 10. Shanghai came out in 11th, whilst Shenzhen and Sydney took the 14th and 16th spot, respectively.

According to JLL, these tech-savvy cities have attracted close to US$100b worth of real estate capital over the past three years, as investors look to tap into the growing demand.

Of the 109 cities analysed, the seven leading Asia Pacific cities – Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Sydney – accounted for around 50% of overall annual real estate investment volumes over the past decade in the region.

“At the moment, the more developed ecosystem, fewer regulations and lower production costs on offer in Shenzhen are drawing start-ups away from the city and the shortage of land in Hong Kong makes it difficult for any advanced manufacturing to reach significant scale. Whilst the government has indicated that it will double the annual spending on research and development by 2022, the total amount being invested still falls short compared to other cities around the region,” he said. 

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