16 July 2021, Singapore – Singapore has clinched the top spot in KPMG’s global ranking of leading technology innovation hubs outside of Silicon Valley/San Francisco this year. This puts the nation ahead of other cities like New York, Tel Aviv, Beijing, and London for the second year running – please see figure 1 below for the top 10 list. The 2021 KPMG Technology Industry Survey1 surveyed more than 800 global leaders from various sub-sectors in the technology industry on the cities they see as leading technology innovation hubs over the next four years. Among the top factors seen as important in the ranking were an urban locale that attracts young professionals, a pipeline of skilled talent, and modern infrastructure (including high-speed bandwidth).

Figure 1: KPMG’s top 10 global ranking of cities seen as leading technology innovation hubs over the next four years (outside Silicon Valley/San Francisco)


When asked which countries and jurisdictions show the most promise for developing disruptive technologies, global tech leaders identified the United States, China and India as the top three, the same as in last year's survey. There are a few movers to note in the top 10 list. Seoul, ranked eighth last year, dropped out of the top 10 to tie for 14th this year. Austin and Seattle, ranked 11th and 24th respectively last year, tied for 10th this year.

Six of the top ten cities in the ranking are from the Asia Pacific region. Darren Yong, Asia Pacific Head of Technology, Media and Telecommunications at KPMG, commented, “We are seeing Asia take a leading position in innovation across the world and as highlighted in this report, more than 50 percent of these top innovation hubs are based in this region. Asian cities will continue to be a hotbed of creativity and we expect even more activity as organisations invested in Asia look to further disrupt business models to capture the world’s largest consumer population.” 

Ling Su Min, Partner, Head of Clients, Markets & Innovation, KPMG in Singapore said, “Singapore's accomplishments as a leading tech innovation hub have been part of the country's strategic vision. It reinforces other strengths that the nation has consciously built up, such as a reputable global financial hub and a critical gateway for businesses to access the rest of Asia. The recognition that we are only stronger if competitive on multiple fronts in today’s digitally connected global economy, has fostered greater collaboration and convergence between sectors, industries and previously dispersed ecosystems. These attributes continue to draw top talent to live, work and play in this city in a garden (Singapore), as we work together for a better and greener future.”

Top 10 cities all have strong innovation ecosystems

Cities that made the top 10 all had strong innovation ecosystems in place before the pandemic, according to the 2021 KPMG Technology Industry Survey. Global tech leaders cited the following factors as key for cities to be considered tech innovation hubs. 

Top factors for a city to be a tech innovation hub Percentage of respondents
Urban locale that attracts young professionals 44%
A pipeline of skilled talent 34%
Modern infrastructure, including high-speed bandwidth 31%
At least one research-intensive university 26%
Positive demographic growth trends 23%
Generous tax and other government incentives 20%
Available investment funding 20%
A history of successful start-up exits 19%
An established base of tech parks or accelerators 19%
Favourable regulatory environment 12%
Supporting ecosystem of banks, law firms, etc 11%
Mentoring and access to innovation network 10%

Physical hubs important even as hybrid/remote work models expected by top talent

Despite the new global workforce trends, physical innovation hubs will continue to play a vital role enabling talent to coalesce and collaborate in communities with a solid digital infrastructure.

Global tech leaders believe that physical hubs remain important as incubators for new ideas, collaboration and innovation, regardless of advances in video and communications technologies. Almost twice as many global tech leaders (39 per cent) believe that hubs are still critical for driving technology innovation, compared to 22 per cent who said it was not important and 39 per cent who were neutral. Even among respondents who were neutral or felt that physical hubs are not important, 92 per cent still think that physical hubs will exist four years from now, according to the 2021 KPMG Technology Industry Survey.

However, hybrid and remote working models could influence opinions of which cities are leading technology innovation hubs over the next few years, as indicated by majority of global tech leaders (61 per cent) surveyed in the 2021 KPMG Technology Industry Survey. This is since tech companies are embracing hybrid and remote working models to retain top talent as their workforce disperses geographically. For instance, out of the respondents who answered that physical hubs are very important, 32 per cent of them suggested that Silicon Valley will maintain its leadership position over the next four years. Another 32 per cent of respondents did not agree with this, citing quality-of-life issues faced by talent and increasing work-from-anywhere and hybrid work models

On work and hiring trends, another survey, the KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey2 found that 78 per cent of CEOs will not be downsizing their physical footprint. Only 26 per cent expected to hire predominantly remote talent. 58 per cent thought that the majority of employees will work remotely only two to three days a week, indicating an appetite to still have workers on site for part of the work week.


1The 2021 KPMG Technology Industry Survey, now in its ninth year, included responses from more than 800 global leaders in the technology industry across all the major subsectors including technology services, internet/eCommerce, hardware/electronics, software/SaaS and semiconductors. About two-thirds (65 per cent) of the respondents were C-level executives. Data was collected from March 2021 to May 2021 across 12 countries. 

2The 2021 KPMG Pulse Outlook Survey features insights from 500 CEOs at large global companies ($500M+ annual revenue), including 50 in the technology industry. They were surveyed from January 2021 to March 2021 about key challenges and opportunities in driving business growth over the next three years and their responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For media queries, please contact:

Jeanie Lee

Associate Director, Marketing & Communications
KPMG in Singapore
E: jeanielee@kpmg.com.sg

Asha Raghu

Communications Manager
KPMG in Singapore
E: asharaghu@kpmg.com.sg

Brian O’Neill

Senior Manager
Global External Communications
E: Brian.O’Neill@kpmg.co.uk

About KPMG

KPMG in Singapore is part of a global network of independent professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 146 countries and territories and in FY20 had close to 227,000 people working in member firms around the world. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. KPMG International Limited is a private English company limited by guarantee. KPMG International Limited and its related entities do not provide services to clients.

For more information, visit kpmg.com.sg
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/kpmg-singapore 

Connect with us