Which Are the World’s Most Innovative Cities? Ranking Reveals Champions, Laggards, and Potentials

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, cities and businesses are constantly looking to innovate. The Innovation Cities™ Index offers a comprehensive look at which cities are leading, which are emerging innovators, and those struggling to keep pace, becoming less competitive and adaptable in the global landscape.

Let’s dive into the key findings and rankings of this report.

Key Takeaways

  • Cities that consistently rank highly excel in economic and social innovation. This provides ideal conditions for investment and international and national businesses and are models of sustainable innovation.
  • Rapidly rising cities signal robust economic development, making them prime candidates for investment and business ventures.
  • Cities falling behind in innovation often struggle to boost productivity and overcome social and economic challenges.

Top Innovators: Leaders in the Innovation Cities™ Index 

  • Five of the ten most innovative cities are in the United States.
  • Tokyo continues to hold the number 1 rank.
  • London leaps nine positions to secure 2nd place.
  • New York remains steady in 3rd place.
  • Boston, Seoul, and Houston experience slight declines but stay in the top 10.
  • Sydney and Chicago drop out of the top 10 but remain within the top 20.
Rank City Country
1 Tokyo Japan
2 London UK
3 New York USA
4 Paris France
5 Singapore Singapore
6 Los Angeles USA
7 Boston USA
8 Seoul South Korea
9 San Francisco USA
10 Houston USA

Innovation Challenges: The Bottom Ten Cities in the 2022-2023 Index

Cities at the bottom of the Innovation Cities™ Index face significant hurdles impacting their innovation scores, including conflict, economic challenges, political turmoil, and inadequate infrastructure.

Rank City Country
491 Sevastopol Ukraine
492 Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago
493 Dushanbe Tajikistan
494 Simferopol Ukraine
495 Port Harcourt Nigeria
496 Luanda Angola
497 Zaporozhye Ukraine
498 Douala Cameroon
499 Kinshasa DRC
500 Khartoum Sudan

Biggest Movers: Cities with the Largest Positive Rank Changes

This year, several cities have demonstrated remarkable progress in innovation, significantly climbing the ranks.

Doha, Qatar leads the pack with an impressive 247-rank increase, reflecting its substantial investments in infrastructure and technology.

Similarly, Halifax and Hamilton in Canada have shown robust advancements, with increases of 234 and 162 ranks, respectively.

European cities such as Torino, Nuremberg, and Lucerne have also made notable strides, showcasing their growing potential as innovation hubs.

Delhi’s 165-rank surge highlights India’s expanding influence in the global innovation landscape.

These cities’ rapid advancements underscore the dynamic nature of global urban innovation and their potential to attract investments and foster economic growth.

City Country Rank Change
Doha Qatar +247
Halifax Canada +234
Torino Italy +204
Nuremberg Germany +173
Lucerne Switzerland +171
Delhi India +165
Hamilton Canada +162
Venice Italy +162
Athens Greece +158
Montpellier France +158

Declining Innovators: Cities with the Largest Negative Rank Changes

Conversely, some cities have experienced significant declines in their innovation rankings, reflecting various challenges.

Cedar Rapids in the USA saw the most substantial drop, falling 197 ranks, indicating potential struggles in maintaining its innovation momentum.

Chinese cities such as Ningbo, Wuxi, Xi’an, Chengdu, Xiamen, and Wenzhou also faced notable declines, suggesting broader regional issues affecting their innovation capabilities.

American cities Augusta, Des Moines, and Springfield have similarly dropped in the rankings, highlighting potential economic or social hurdles.

These declines serve as a stark reminder of the constant need for cities to adapt and innovate to remain competitive in the global landscape.

City Country Rank Change
Cedar Rapids USA -197
Ningbo China -196
Wuxi China -192
Xi’an China -190
Chengdu China -188
Augusta USA -187
Des Moines USA -178
Springfield USA -177
Xiamen China -176
Wenzhou China -171

Consistent Leaders: Cities with the Highest 5-Year Average Rank

The cities with the highest 5-year average ranks illustrate the enduring strength and stability of leading innovation hubs worldwide.

Tokyo, New York, and London continue to dominate, maintaining top positions due to their robust ecosystems that support continuous innovation and development.

Cities like Singapore and Seoul in Asia, and Paris in Europe, also exemplify sustained excellence, balancing economic growth with social and technological advancements.

In North America, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago showcase the United States’ regional diversity in fostering innovation.

These consistent leaders set benchmarks for other cities, demonstrating the critical elements necessary for long-term innovation success and competitiveness.

Rank City Country
1 Tokyo Japan
3 New York USA
5 London UK
5 Singapore Singapore
6 Boston USA
7 Paris France
8 San Francisco-San Jose USA
9 Los Angeles USA
10 Seoul South Korea
10 Chicago USA

Methodology of 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities™ Index

The Innovation Cities™ Index evaluates the pre-conditions for innovation in cities globally using 162 indicators, derived from around 1000 data point variables. These indicators cover 31 industry or government sectors, focusing on outcomes rather than management structures. The indicators are summarized into a 3-factor score reflecting the stages of innovation: ideation, implementation, and communication, with an additional pillar for feasibility assessment.

About 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities™ Index

Founded by Christopher Hire in 2006, 2thinknow® first published the Innovation Cities™ Index in 2007. The Index ranks over 500 cities in the global innovation economy using advanced analytical techniques.


The 2022-2023 Innovation Cities™ Index by 2thinknow provides a comprehensive analysis of urban innovation worldwide, highlighting the strengths and challenges of cities globally. It not only identifies the top innovators but also shines a spotlight on cities making significant progress toward sustainable innovation. It underscores the importance of a data-driven approach to fostering and sustaining innovation, offering a vital tool for policymakers, businesses, and researchers dedicated to enhancing urban innovation ecosystems.

For a detailed look at the full rankings, visit the Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023.

Want more? Explore our City Observatory for snapshots of how major cities around the world compare in terms of economic performance, city brand strength, sustainability and reputation.


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