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Dubai Innovation Index 2017 – Hong Kong takes the lead

The Dubai Innovation Index was conceptualized in 2015 in order to help Dubai on its way to becoming the world’s most innovative city in the years that followed. Its main aim was to foster a culture of innovation within Dubai's business community, to evaluate the city's innovation performance and to identify key strengths as well as areas where it needs to improve. The key findings of the latest report can be viewed here.
The Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has worked out a comprehensive framework to analyze the macro (city level) and micro (private sector level) performance. This enables readers to compare the level of innovation among global cities and within the private sector in a city across industries and companies. This framework also helps cities to identify areas of improvement in the innovation ecosystem and allows them to define their next steps in order to achieve sustainable development and a growing economy based on innovation. The metrics consist of the Macroeconomic View, which is made up of the Innovation Output Ratio and the Private Sector Innovation Score, and the Microeconomic View which measures the Private Sector Output Ratio. Unlike last year, this year’s rankings include 30 cities instead of 27.
This year several factors have contributed to an unstable development of the global, political and economic environment: the impact of Brexit, unemployment in South America and the continuous economic volatility due to the decrease in oil prices. This in turn has had an impact on innovation in cities, where reduced investing has affected the rate of innovation. However, some countries have not been influenced by the economic slowdown (e.g. Scandinavia, Australia and South-East Asian countries) and, on the contrary, were able to boost their rankings in innovation. Looking at regional trends, we see that the majority of cities in North America and Asia Pacific have improved in their innovation performance, while most of those in the Middle East and Europe have witnessed a decrease in their innovation score.

This year Hong Kong is ranked first in the Index, climbing two places from last year. Hong Kong was followed by New York (2nd) and London (3rd). Singapore (4th) and Seoul (5th) managed to re-enter the top 5 in 2017, after a decline in 2016. This positive result for the top-5 is mainly due to the fact that they are looking to empower their innovation ecosystem by increasing their talent pool through investing large amounts of money in colleges and training providers. New York, on the other hand, is focusing on empowering and diversifying its workforce in order to grow businesses, while Hong Kong has started the University-Industry Collaboration Program which aims to boost R&D in collaboration with local universities. Tokyo (6th), Stockholm (7th), Copenhagen (8th), Zurich (9th), and San Francisco (10th) complete the top-10. San Francisco, alongside Dubai, was among those cities which have shown continuous improvement over the past few years, moving up one position from last year.

Dubai performed exceptionally well in the political, economic and social environment, despite the weaker performance of the economy in the Middle East due to the drop in fiscal revenues from oil that has affected the overall economy in the region. Dubai has developed and started several initiatives to foster innovation across all segments of society and support a knowledge-based economy, such as, for example, the launch of the National Strategy of Higher Education 2030. Dubai also wants to diversify from oil by investing in renewable energy and plans to generate 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. It is currently ranked 14th, climbing one position since last year.

Doha and Riyadh dropped noticeably in their rankings from 2016 to 2017. This was largely due to the low economic growth caused by reduced revenues from oil, which slows down investment in innovation. They were awarded 22nd and 24th positions in the 2017 rankings, having lost 6, and 5 positions respectively, from last year.
The bottom 5 cities include: Mexico City (26th), Johannesburg (27th), Bangalore (28th), Sao Paulo (29th), and Nairobi (30th). The most significant drop in this group was witnessed by Nairobi, going down 12 positions from 2016, which is due to the city’s high youth unemployment rate.