The municipalities of Beijing and Shanghai, and the city of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, have topped the national list for the development of innovative talent, but smaller cities are catching up in driving the country's innovative development push, according to a recent report.
The latest ranking of the top three spots remained unchanged from last year's ranking, according to the 2023 China Innovative Talents Index published last week.
The report, compiled by Shenzhen Talent Group and Tsinghua University's Research Center for Technological Innovation, bases its results on the evaluation of four major indicators — talent scale, structure, performance and environment — which are divided into 10 sub-indicators. Fifty-eight cities across the country are covered in the research.
Beijing's talent development is balanced, with the nation's capital in the top position nationwide in all of the four major aspects.
Shanghai grabbed second place in three of the four major indicators except talent structure, which was overshadowed by Shenzhen, known as China's Silicon Valley.
The performance of innovative talent in Shenzhen and the city's talent environment ranked third, but it lagged behind the provincial capital Guangzhou in terms of talent scale.
The metropolis of Guangzhou, one of China's four first-tier cities alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, dropped one place to fifth in the overall ranking. It was replaced by Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, where e-commerce titan Alibaba Group is headquartered.
The release of the report comes as China is making intensified efforts to develop a sound innovation ecosystem to pave the way for its high-quality development. Innovative talent is believed to be a vital part in the building of such an ecosystem.
Chen Jin, director of the Research Center for Technological Innovation, said the launch of the report is aimed at providing dynamic and sustainable data support for the country's construction of a global innovation hub and a high-quality talent pool.
Although top Chinese cities are dominating the cultivation and introduction of innovative talent, the index also indicated that second-tier cities are rapidly catching up. Wuxi in Jiangsu province advanced to the top 10 list, ranking 10th.
Yantai and Qingdao, both in Shandong province, jumped 14 and seven places, respectively, over a three-year period to position themselves as the 32nd and 13th strongest cities in the field.
Zheng Yongnian, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen), emphasized the importance of high-level opening-up in nurturing innovative talent.
China's internationalization has trailed that of New York and San Francisco, where 40 percent of the population is foreign, indicating their internationalized level, he said in an earlier media interview.
He stressed that people from diverse backgrounds could bring cultural interactions that could spark new thoughts and ideas.
According to the Global Innovation Index 2023, a separate report published by the World Intellectual Property Organization in September, China ranked 12th among 132 economies across the world.