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Asia Rising: The Global Innovation Landscape

Asia Rising:  The Global Innovation Landscape

Research and development spending is at an all time high in Asia, especially in China – a nation that continues to be number one in global patent applications – with no end in sight.  Striking growth in Research and Development investment in China promises an increase in global competition and a shift in the innovation landscape.


The new global innovation landscaped is dependent not only upon R&D but on education, especially in areas like science, math, and engineering.  Interest in these areas is especially high in China, indicating that many countries will be recruiting foreign-born labor to fill crucial roles in these areas.  China actually represents 40% of all new science and engineering degrees being awarded and the trend suggests that these jobs will continue their shift to Asia-Pacific.  As immigration-friendly policies become the norm across the region, longer-term investments to the country will become commonplace, expanding the domestic talent supply in engineering, math, and science.


By 2050, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the leading global innovator especially in the areas of reverse innovation.  Simply put, reverse innovation is an innovation that’s often seen first or used first in the developing world before moving on to the industrialized and Western world.  But Asia-Pacific also rules when it comes to inclusive innovation.  Examples of inclusive innovation include the world’s cheapest car, Tata Nano, cheap mobile phones, and cheap medical procedures.  Whether these types of innovations will change the landscape of the future is to be seen, but obviously Asia-Pacific is well positioned to lead.


Asia has contributed more than fifty percent toward the world’s economic growth in the last twenty years.  Japan remains second in the world in spending and consumption of Information Technology resources globally.  Uzebekistan remains poised to become a leader in the software industry and made strides in 2014, more than doubling last year’s IT spending within the first six months of this year.  Asia-Pacific is also set to make strides in the pharmaceutical industry.  The great thing about pharmaceutical innovations in Asia-Pacific is that instead of relying on old models of the West, companies are free to change how they innovate in Asia.  In terms of talent and innovation, the pharmaceutical industry is starting with a clean slate, which is a great advantage when presenting unique innovations to the marketplace.


China also stands to make significant progress in the area of manufacturing innovation.  Recently, a lucrative $12 billion dollar deal to design and build nearly 900 miles of railroad in Africa was inked and signed.  It’s the single largest overseas engineering contract every to be awarded to a Chinese manufacturing company.  However, it’s not the only manufacturing contracted to be awarded to CRCC recently.  Another deal made was between Boston’s transit authority and CRCC consisting of an order of almost 300 subway cars for an estimated $567 million contract.  It seems that China’s manufacturing future consists on outsourcing some of its business.