UK cities lead Europe on Innovation hubs

Photo shows: University of Warwick Venture Centre
Uni of Warwick Venture Centre

The UK has more leading innovation hubs than any other European country, and while London ranks first in Europe, The Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and second overall, according to the latest Global Innovation Hubs report from site selection consultancy Hickey, Internationally, Oxford and Birmingham-Coventry also appear in the top 25 of the ranking, at 19th and 25th respectively

Five other UK city regions appeared in the top 25 for EMEA, the most from any single country: Edinburgh (9th); Sheffield (16th); Glasgow (17th); Manchester-Liverpool (18th) and Leeds (21st).

The report also revealed the UK’s strengths in specific business spheres, with leading innovation hubs in: biotechnology, medical and pharmaceutical (Cambridge, London and Oxford); ICT (London); fintech (London); nanotechnology (Cambridge); automotive (Birmingham); and aerospace (Bristol and London).

Drawing on 40 years of site selection expertise, the HICKEY Global Innovation Hubs report identifies the international markets  leading the way in real business innovation and transformation. Seven distinct categories were identified and then weighted according to their significance, creating a comprehensive definition of what forms and sustains an innovative market. Patents, education, research and investment scores were the most significant.

Guy Douetil, EMEA managing director of Hickey, said: “The scores posted by UK cities, and the positions they hold in the overall rankings as a result, highlight the strength of the country’s innovation hubs and the lead they are taking in Europe. London, at the front of the pack in the EMEA region and second only to Boston globally, is a clear leader, but the strong showing from seven other city regions underline the innovative muscle that exists nationwide.

“A whole range of factors feed into an innovative ecosystem, but at its heart this is a story about access to talent, capital and technological advances. With its internationally-renowned university system and traditional openness to new people and ideas, the UK has long been somewhere that has fostered innovation. Combined with the capital markets of the City and strong legal protections for intellectual property, the UK has a winning formula for attracting the businesses and talent that drive innovation.

“But these are not advantages that can be taken for granted. Even a cursory glance across Europe and beyond shows city regions that are seeking to emulate the approach and make themselves the innovation hub of choice for the next generation. As the UK grapples with the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic and its departure from the EU, it is these innovation hubs that will drive future success, but only if their advantages continue to be properly understood and nurtured by public policy.”