The mothers of invention: How countries, cities and tech hubs are chasing the future

An introduction to our Innovation Hotspots series, looking at how government and VC investment, universities and private enterprise are coming together to develop ideas and start-ups in quantum, AI, advanced telecoms and advanced materials.

Marc Ambasna-Jones

Over 30 governments have committed more than $40 billion in public funding to quantum technologies, which will be deployed in the next 10 years, according to The State of Quantum 2024 Report from IQM Quantum Computers, OpenOcean, and Lakestar, in partnership with The Quantum Insider. Add to this the billions that have already been invested through VCs and you have a very active and fast growing global industry.

Our aim is to break that down a bit and see how countries, cities and tech hubs compare and contrast when it comes to research and development in innovation. How does Bristol compare with Helsinki, and how does London compare with San Francisco? Of course, regions compete but they also collaborate.

Starting with France, we examine how innovation in advanced materials is being developed in Grenoble . Hydrogen is another  big area for regional and country development strategies, so we want to examine how different approaches and achievements shape-up. As Artem Abramov, head of clean tech research at Rystad Energy pointed out earlier this year, hydrogen projects are going to take off this year.

Related Story:

“Activity in the clean hydrogen sector is surging globally, fuelled by maturing policies in Europe and the US, in addition to early commercial-scale projects in the Middle East, Australia and Africa,” says Abramov. “However, 2024 promises more than just momentum – it’s a year of clarity. Several key feasibility studies will be completed, revealing promising new use cases for hydrogen consumption.”

We also want to look at how 6G is developing across countries and regions too – how 6G research is emerging through collaborations between mobile telecoms businesses and Canada’s academia, for example. And also the role of AI, which will become a key innovation tool across all sectors. Bristol’s own Isabard-AI project is a clear indication of how strategy can lead to opportunity, bringing together government funding but also academic know-how and entrepreneurial drive. How does this compare to say, Spain’s MareNostrum 5?

Look out and not just in, someone surely once said. 

Marc Ambasna-Jones
Marc Ambasna-Jones / Editor-in-chief

Working as a technology journalist and writer since 1989, Marc has written for a wide range of titles on technology, business, education, politics and sustainability, with work appearing in The Guardian, The Register, New Statesman, Computer Weekly and many more.