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Where will innovation come from?

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McKinsey publish regular articles and research that stimulates the little grey cells.  For example, this week they ask the question: "will Asia become the center for innovation in the 21st century?"

This is a timely discussion, as it fits with the work I'll be delivering at SIBOS this year, bearing in mind that SIBOS is in Hong Kong and I'm going to be looking at innovation in financial services and the most likely scenario for the future bank.

In the McKinsey debate Iqbal Z. Quadir, founder and director of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), argues Asia “is positioned to generate a torrent of new products and services that could make it the global leader in innovation. China and India are fast adopting modern technologies and making great economic strides. South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have already leaped forward. Yet all of these countries were among the world’s poorest only a few decades ago. With this momentum, Asia could become the center for innovation in the 21st century.”

He then discusses the challenges, and believes that Asia’s need to deal with poverty and remoteness will stimulate Asia’s economic and technological innovation and leadership.

Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), adds to the debate stating that “defenders of the status quo dismiss Asia’s prospects as an innovation leader because the United States has been the leader for so long—and they assume it will continue to be. But past performance in innovation is no guarantee of future performance, as we have seen with one-time leaders that have lost their advantage, such as Germany and Great Britain. In fact, while the United States once led the world, it no longer does by many measures, and absent significant changes to public policy, it won’t in the future. Asia will.”

According to analysis by ITIF, the most innovative nations are Singapore, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and South Korea, with America lagging in sixth place.  Increasingly Asian nations are rising up the tables fast, with China making the most progress.

Robert worries that the USA has no explicit national innovation policy whilst most leading Asian nations have, and he concludes that Asia will lead in the future because “the United States lets it by continuing to rely on market forces alone to generate innovation leadership.”

Interesting discussion.

Where do you think innovation will come from?

Europe, Asia, Africa, America, Latin America … or from everywhere.

My own view?

Asia leads mobile innovations; America leads internet innovations; and Europe leads in maintaining our traditions.

Now that should get a backlash for a start!

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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