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Report ranks world’s most innovation-friendly cities

The Big Apple leapfrogged last year’s leaders, Tokyo, London and San Francisco.

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New York tops the 12th annual list of the world’s most innovative cities, compiled by 2thinknow.

 

The Big Apple leapfrogged last year’s leaders, Tokyo, London and San Francisco.

 

2thinknow said New York had embraced a “more human and sustainable lifestyle, start-up economy and new smart technologies” and was the winner despite Tokyo’s tech edge in burgeoning fields like robotics.

 

New York’s Hudson Yards development and High Line park are symbols of how the city is managing to forge "a new way in innovation", according to the analysts.

 

2thinknow said New York had embraced a “more human and sustainable lifestyle, start-up economy and new smart technologies” and was the winner despite Tokyo’s tech edge in burgeoning fields like robotics.

 

The Innovation Cities Index aims to measure the development of innovation economies globally. It is based on what 2thinknow defines as the three preconditions for innovation: cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets. 500 cities are benchmarked for the annual report, from 2thinknow’s City Benchmarking Data set of over 2,000 cities. 2thinknow scores cities on 162 indicators, including start-up economy, 13 mobility indicators, sustainability, neighbourhoods and technology, among others.

 

The top 10

  1. New York
  2. Tokyo
  3. London
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Singapore
  6. Paris
  7. Chicago
  8. Boston
  9. San Francisco/San Jose
  10. Toronto

Movers and shakers

 

For the first time, 11 of the top 20 cities in the Index are in the United States.

 

“What really surprised us this year was a United States bounce-back at the top of the league,” said Christopher Hire, Director of 2thinknow. “However, there were quite dramatic movements by cities up and down all across the USA, and globally as well highlighting strong volatility and shortening the time window for commercialising new ideas.”

 

The remainder of the cities are in Europe and Asia. Singapore came in at number five thanks to its strong tech, mobility and infrastructure improvements. Paris follows at six, due to its recent rail refurbishment programmes and start-up sector, which 2thinknow said are “a symbol of some resurgent French innovation”. Los Angeles’ strong entertainment and tech sector saw it climb one place to fourth position.

 

Chicago entered the top ten for the first time, noted for its burgeoning start-ups, innovation seeding across many industries, a sustainable food scene and top-ranked universities. Boston, meanwhile, has remained in the global top ten every year the ranking has been published.

 

Detroit moved up 25 places, which 2thinknow put down to the mobility sector becoming more important to the global economy.

 

Detroit moved up 25 places, which 2thinknow put down to the mobility sector becoming more important to the global economy. Other US cities moving up more than 25 places included Louisville (Kentucky), Dayton (Ohio) and San Antonio (Texas).

 

UK’s hidden gems, Africa’s rising tide

 

In Asia, despite the trade dispute, Chinese cities Shenzhen (53) and Beijing (up 11 places to 26) both rose for innovation. Jakarta (119) rose 58 places based on its start-up sector, growth and new reforms.

 

Predictably, London dominates the UK rankings but several other cities stand out too, including Birmingham (up 23 places), Nottingham (up 44 places) and Newcastle (up 19 places).

 

In Europe, German cities are led by Berlin (12), followed by Munich (27, down 6 places) and Hamburg (46). Barcelona regained its long-term innovation status, rising to 21st globally, ahead of Madrid in 28th place.

 

In Australia, Melbourne (11) became the top city in Australia, beating Sydney (15) for the first time in the list.

 

Although African cities continue to be among the lowest-ranked, there are signs of a “rising tide”. The average ranking of top African cities rose two per cent.

 

Keeping up

 

“Our Index is designed to measure innovation conditions and often predicts rising cities before other rankings. It is up to the city whether they can keep on top of the latest trends and exploit their innovation potential [on an ongoing basis]. Cities that place well every year do that, which is not as simple as it sounds for urban areas to adapt and transform,” said Hire.

 

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