Christopher Hire, founder of the Innovation Cities Index, in this interview discusses what it takes for 21st century cities to be - remain or become - competitive for economic development and to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), both of which are among the most frequent reasons for city branding initiatives.
- How a city's innovative practices affect its reputation and brand;
- Main insights from the latest Innovations Cities Index;
- What a city needs to excel on the innovation front;
- The biggest challenges faced by cities right now;
- Two examples of cities doing particularly well regarding innovation.
Christopher, it is now 10 years since your consulting and research agency 2thinknow was founded. What has changed since you started?
Yes, the 10 year anniversary comes upon us in August. It seems so long ago that I was sitting in the Hotel Bristol in Vienna in 2005, thinking of how to apply concepts across very different cities.
This came after studying micro-economics of markets and firms, and after studying the history of innovation, trying to find out how I could help others create innovation in cities worldwide.
Questions that drove me when I started my career (and still do) were: how can we make the cities better places to live and work? How can we help cities overcome challenges? What data would we need to know what was happening on the ground in cities? And how could we make cities attractive for investors?
Part of the insight came from my experience, at the time implementing tech projects in very large corporations and governments to solve specific problems in accounting, infrastructure, budgeting, HR, etc. I saw that change was not easy in organizations, and I started thinking of cities as organizations, and wondering why more had not been done besides the work of Richard Florida, Jane Jacobs, etc.
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