Data-Led Economic & Place Development

2thinknow was founded in 2006 by Christopher Hire. With offices in Queensland and Victoria, 2thinknow offers expertise in research and consulting projects focused on innovation, frontier data science and the future of cities.

2thinknow has been publishing the Innovation Cities™ Index since 2007, an innovation ranking of 500 cities globally. Measured against 162 indicators across 31 industry sectors, the city innovation data is the largest and longest-running study of its kind. It is mentioned in more than 14,000 newspapers and media sites published in over 100 languages and featured in at least 400 current citations with researchers from over 180 countries relying on the annual release.

The Index has also been presented in person at the United Nations Palais de Nations in Geneva and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.

Current headline results are free to access online. Register here to download the Excel and receive the latest updates and analysis.

Urban Center in South Africa

How 2thinknow City Innovation Data Helps City Brand Professionals

The 2thinknow ranking and the data within can be useful to place branding professionals, economic development teams, and trade and tourism departments - especially to those tasked with measuring and developing plans or improvements for cities. Above all, the Index helps you establish a relative and balanced position for your city globally.

Beyond the annual global ranking of 500 cities, there are nation and regional rankings, and a wide variety of heuristics which measure where your city could be and how to improve your city's performance.

Some cities are very strong in specific industries or department areas. To help measure your area, each of the 162 indicators can be benchmarked alone or in groups. And these indicators cover a wide range of public and industry areas like digitalisation, sustainability, tech, mobility, smart cities and many more.

Meaning you can use the data to measure the success of your programs. Or as inputs to your consulting or change engagements.

Why Strong Innovation Performance Matters

A high index ranking for innovation correlates with essential development activities that the local government and residents care the most about, like:

  • job creation (measured as low unemployment)
  • economic development (measured as city GDP per capita)
  • tourism (measured as visitors, flights or in other ways)
  • and lower inequality (measured as Gini

Having compiled these key metrics for over 12 years, 2thinknow invites cities to benefit from its extensive data library which includes insights into 500 cities.

What Makes 2thinknow's City Innovation Index Unique

While Mercer and The Economist publish reliable liveability rankings focusing on the cost of living for expats, the Innovation Cities™ Index measures innovation, which is a key focus these days.

A majority of cities globally want to invest in the technology sector, be it social enterprises, AI, nascent tech, smart cities, scale-ups, start-ups, or digital twins: every city or place wants to be a hub of innovation.

Why? To attract the best talent, create new jobs, attract investments, encourage businesses to relocate, grow and provide economic growth, develop inbound tourism and increase tourist spend. Also, make its citizens proud and feel a sense of belonging.

The Innovation Cities™ Index helps measure which cities are the best places for investment in this sector. It can even showcase the correlation between innovation and jobs, economic development, tourism and inequality.

How Best to Work with 2thinknow

Engage with 2thinknow as data provider or strategic consultancy. 2thinknow's role is to share data tailored to cities to help identify the city’s strengths, to promote and measure success.

Chris Hire: "We are happy to provide workshops, strategy or co-creation. 2thinknow can also provide other data specific to relevant sectors, innovation, analysis and training services.”

Who You’ll be Working With

Christopher Hire (Linkedin | TPBO Interview) is Director Data at 2thinknow. He was invited as an expert speaker to the OECD in Paris and the UN in Geneva on the subject of cities and innovation. Chris has previously taught innovation as a subject as a part of leadership programmes for the government of the United Arab Emirates, by request. He wears many hats professionally, from being a data scientist, consultant, data analyst, analyst programmer, graphic designer, data visualizer, project manager and teacher of technical subjects. He is also a foodie, toastmaster, and traveller.

Chris is supported by 2thinknow’s team of experienced professionals with master’s degrees from Australian universities and years of experience across data and commerce fields.

Christopher Hire, Director of 2thinknow

A Few Bits of Advice for Place Branding Professionals

This advice shared by Christopher Hire helps ensure that your place branding budget is spent wisely.

Get Fresh Independent Data to Promote your City

Access to data is not a challenge. It is common for countries to own national and state data, but the question is how relevant is the data to your citizens and target markets.

National data makes little sense. Did you know cities' data can vary 800% from national averages? Country-level data from the USA is of little relevance to people in Miami-Dade. Data can vary between regions/cities within the country and also between countries in the same continent. For example, Leipzig or Dresden vary from Berlin greatly, despite being just under two hours away by rail.

Specific and relevant data is hard to find and even more difficult to substantiate. For cities claiming to be the best place for start-ups or parks, how can cities back the claim with data? Are the trade visitor numbers accurate? If a place marketing campaign is not giving the desired results, it could be because the claims the cities are making are not credible.

It is best to rely on data that is reliable and independently reviewed to be able to unearth a city’s strengths and use them to attract investments, trade, talent, and visitors. Every single city can be positioned to lean into its strengths and we help cities achieve their goals through authentic data and research on their strengths and weaknesses.

Lean into your Place Strengths

Cities commonly make generic claims of being a ‘smart’ or ‘liveable’ city, which is difficult to substantiate. Consequently, visitors and business partners can see through such baseless claims and discard the thought of engaging with such cities.

So, what is the best way to find out what a city’s strengths are? Our data repository of 500 cities can help interested clients deep dive into the traits of their cities, understand their strengths and weaknesses by benchmarking with other cities, and gather their global or regional or national strengths.

No matter how big or small the city, 2thinknow can help cities discover their strengths and utilize this valuable information in their place branding or promotion strategy for long-term positive results.

Get City Data on Where your Opportunities are

Opportunities are unique to every city. They could be marketed for export or means of developing the economy. While they may be considered strengths to be used in place branding strategies, these are areas for cities to grow and improve upon.

Instead, we recommend that cities use our data to recognize their ‘emerging strengths’ to attract businesses, develop business partnerships and opportunities in relevant areas, and become future leaders in the sector.

Find People who Know and Love your City

Finding the right consultants who love your city and understand the pulse of your city is a hard bargain. They should be able to passionately describe what is great about your city and work with your city or place, and its soul.

For developing and promoting a city, finding passionate professionals who believe in your city and their honest insights is what matters the most in developing place branding strategies.

Key Sample Projects that Have Used 2thinknow Data:

Government Projects:

  • Paris
  • Singapore
  • Barcelona
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Brisbane


  • The Economist (UK)
  • Nuveen Real Estate, UK
  • Swiss Life, Zurich
  • Jones Lang Lasalle
  • Savills
  • Deloitte, BCG


  • Reuters
  • Newscorp (AU)
  • Tech Insider (US)
  • Fox TV, USA
  • Newspapers of record in 140+ countries
  • Local news bulletins worldwide
  • Quality blogs and media

Data-Focused Services for You:

2thinknow takes a data driven insights approach to everything. All 2thinknow data is independently prepared blind of outcome (limits bias) and thus credible.

Data Services:

  • Data to compare cities in any area
  • Data benchmarks as ‘KPIs’ to achieve
  • Raw data at city level for any purpose
  • City branding data or place data for tourism
  • City rankings or data models

Value Added Services:

  • Insight briefings from the data to save you time and money
  • Analysis & storytelling from the data
  • Help with city branding strategy
  • Co-create innovation strategy
  • Training workshops
  • Professional speaking engagements


  • Cutting edge stats to promote your city
  • Make your city stand out with individual rankings
  • Rank your city against 500 cities on many indicators
  • Certified ranks against 500 cities on any criteria (e.g. #5 (top 1%) on public green areas from 500 cities)

You'd like a personal introduction to Chris and the team? Please contact us.
2thinknow is part of the TPBO network of recommended service providers.