Dubai, the commercial, financial and business hub of the Middle East, has risen a notch to claim the 15th position in the second edition of the Dubai Innovation Index.

“This can partly be attributed to the significant increase in funding and investment in innovation-focused initiatives, and to the closer collaboration between the public and private sectors,” Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) chairman Majid Saif al-Ghurair told delegates at MEED’s inaugural Innovation Live! summit – an anchor event during UAE Innovation Week – held on 21 November.

The business community in Dubai has realised the importance of innovation and is now actively working to improve research and development (R&D) capacities and adopt new technologies, Al-Ghurair said at the summit.

There is still, however, a need to adopt long-term innovation strategies as opposed to just seeing such efforts as a short-term plan to boost profitability, he added.

Innovation, Al-Ghurair said, is crucial to the UAE’s economy, considering the rapid rate at which technology is evolving. “It’s clear that any government or business that is slow to adopt an innovative strategy and solution, eventually will find it difficult to meet the demands of society and the future.”

The Dubai Innovation Index, launched by DCCI in cooperation with the UK’s PwC, analyses 28 top global innovation cities and Dubai has managed to outperform global hubs such as Madrid, Milan, Shanghai and Moscow.

New York secured the top position in the index, while London fell to fourth place after being ranked first in 2015. European cities ranked higher in general due to an increase in investments into skills and talent, while GCC cities scored high marks in the political, economic and social indicators category, according to a statement from DCCI.

The Dubai Innovation Index is part of DCCI’s innovation strategy, which highlights the Dubai government’s ongoing efforts in spearheading innovation initiatives in the emirate, contributions from the private sector, and an increased public-private sector collaboration to push Dubai’s ranking to the top.

DCCI’s innovation strategy has three main pillars, which focus on supporting enablers of innovation, measuring innovation, and honouring innovators. The chamber plans to invest AED100m ($27m) on innovation-focused projects and initiatives over the next three years, the statement added.

The index shows that Dubai’s private sector companies have started embracing innovation and taking innovation initiatives forward as they become more proactive about implementing new ideas. Businesses have also recognised the importance of finding and retaining the best talent required to drive innovation, while they work to align skills to meet the requirements of the labour market.

According to Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of DCCI, Dubai’s elevation in the index clearly indicates the government’s efforts in laying down a strong foundation to drive innovation on a city-wide level. However, there are areas including investments in R&D, enhancing employees’ skillsets, and raising information technology awareness, where Dubai can improve, Buamim was quoted as saying in the DCCI statement.

“By embracing innovative strategies and practices, the private sector can contribute greatly to Dubai’s vision to become one of the world’s most innovative cities by 2021.”