World’s Most Innovative Cities 2018: Ranking Reveals Winners, Losers, Trends

World's cities are on a mission to become innovation hotspots. But which ones are doing well, and which are lagging behind? Innovation performance is what the Innovation Cities Index by the Australian research consultancy and data innovation agency 2thinknow has been measuring since 2007. We caught up with Christopher Hire, in charge of the ranking, to find out about the winners, losers and trends.

Christopher, which findings of the 2018 Innovation Cities Index by 2thinknow did you find the most intriguing?

One major finding of the Innovation Cities Index 2018 was that both large networked cities and small cities that are globally connected can become major innovation destinations. The improvement across both groups was considerable in some ways.

While the significant improvement of larger cities like Chicago and LA - according to the current data - might surprise some, it does not surprise others. These cities have been doing a lot of experiments in various parts of the city innovation eco-system.

Recall that the Innovation Cities Index is broad-based and measures 162 indicators covering 31 sectors of a city’s eco-system for innovation pre-conditions. The tech and start-up scenes are a big part of this, as is the university sector.

But from a city branding view, few people capture the experimental nature of Chicago's food scene - and our 2thinknow index measures innovation pre-conditions, which shows that the food, events and hospitality sector in Chicago is quite 'happening' - and this is having a  flow on effect.

A city that rose frequently was Oakland. This is often an overlooked city, and one that had a negative reputation at times in the past. The city has become a kind of alternate San Fran, with many of the benefits and a lower cost base. Other virtuous cycle cities like Portland (Oregon) and San Diego (California) also rose in the ranking.

The rise of small cities was noticeable in the more broadband-enabled US and Europe, because broadband internet and related tech is an enabler of the rise of small cities. In 2thinknow analysis, such cities become places where you live - so the brand of the place becomes important - while you interact in a third virtual world.

The 'telework' dream is becoming real - and that’s showing up in the data now. Why not live in Windsor, Canada, and commute into Detroit only occasionally. Detroit also rose this year, showing the success of precious business and community efforts.

This is similar to the previous hollowing out of developed countries, where the wealthier and poorer ends of the socio-economic scale succeed relatively better than the middle class of a given country. That is, the so-called average person feels under financial pressure, while the extremes experience improvement.

Benefit from full access to this article, discounts and more by upgrading to TPBO Premium. Already subscribed? Please log in below. Not yet part of the community? Sign up here

The Editorial Team

Want to stay up to date on latest place branding insights, strategies, stories and examples? Join our mailing list!