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History of Asian Innovation

History of Asian Innovation

The history of Asian Innovation is vast.  Asia was home to some of the earliest known civilizations so it’s no surprise that many changing innovations arose from the continent.  The biggest city in the world has been Tokyo for a very long time so it’s no surprise that we continue to see Asia as the innovation capital of the world – even when Western countries make big moves to steal the title for them.


Beginning in China, four of the greatest innovations that changed the way mankind experiences the world were created there:  paper, compasses, gunpowder, and printing.  Going further into history, the process of fermentation and the tradition of burying the dead in coffins can also be attributed to China.  Singapore was the pioneer of agriculture in a port city and can currently boast a culture of innovation.  China is now the number one patent filer in the world, signaling their innovation period is far from over.


Rising standards in education, a fast growing market and rapidly expanding middle-class combined with state funding signals that Asia is poised on the brink of a rich and heady period of innovation – one that may rival their already rich history of world-changing innovations.  For years, strict governments and regulations that have stifled or, at the very least, controlled innovations have heavily controlled Asia.  Now that environment is slowly shifting to one of collaboration, cooperation, and partnership between nations.


Asia is also quickly become the fastest growing market for pharmaceutical innovations.  Until now, development in this area has been limited but pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca recognized the opportunity for innovation in Asia, years ago.  The establishment of a large manufacturing site named Wuxi began in 2001, with an initial investment of $134 million.    Five years later another $34 million as well as the construction of packing and receiving centers followed the investment.   AstraZeneca continues to invest and make innovations locally, especially in the areas of research and development.  The company currently employs nearly 5,000 in areas like manufacturing, sales, clinical research, and product development.




For thousands of years, Asia has been the center of scientific, technological, and manufacturing advances that have changed the world.  The models of business innovations have been around for centuries in China and beyond, resulting in a process that Asia has utilized successfully and far longer than the Western world.  The importance of recognizing and highlighting such achievements cannot be overlooked because, as the adage goes, history often has a way of repeating itself.