The Geography of Innovation in China and India


The BRICS countries in general, and China and India in particular, are now widely regarded as the areas of the world likely to challenge the economic leadership of the United States (US) and the European Union (EU). A large part of this challenge will come from rapid technological catch-up by China and India. Yet, despite a recent rise in interest, there is limited knowledge about how and where innovation takes place in these two leading emerging countries and to what extent the Chinese and Indian territorial systems of innovation differ from those in the EU or the US. In this article we explore the geography of innovation in China and India, concentrating on understanding key territorial-level innovation trends by country, region and technology field, using the US and the EU as benchmarks. We find significant contrasts between the geography of innovation in China and India and that of the US and the EU. First, the degree of concentration of innovative activities in both countries is extremely high. Levels of agglomeration of innovation in the coastal provinces of China, as well as in Delhi and the South of India, significantly exceed the levels of agglomeration found in the USA and the EU. Secondly, China has witnessed a more rapid increase in the degree of concentration of innovation than India. We posit that the differences in the geography of innovation between, on the one hand, China and India and, on the other hand, between these countries and the developed world are rooted in different institutional settings, different systems of innovation and different national innovation strategies.