Top 100 Most Innovative Cities Named

Tokyo ranks #1 in World Innovation Cities Index ahead of London and Silicon Valley.

Tokyo ranks first overall among the world’s 500 most innovative cities, and a majority of the top 100 cities are in the United States, according to a new ranking from 2thinknow.

Tokyo Innovative Cities
(Credit: Ryan McVay)

San Francisco-San Jose moved down to number three city in the world for innovation, behind London, in the recently published 11th annual Innovation Cities Index of 500 of the world’s most innovative cities.

Next top U.S. cities were New York (4), Los Angeles (5) and previous double-winner Boston (7) and followed by the highest ranked Canadian city of Toronto (9) which beat out Montréal (22) to be top-ranked. Mexico City (73) beat Rio and Sao Paulo to be top-ranked in Latin America, off the back of recent efforts to spread the innovation eco-system.

“This year innovation is likely to come from large cities as usual, but we found on a population-adjusted basis many small cities are punching above their weight,” said Christopher Hire, director of commercial data provider 2thinknow. “It’s the year of big cities with physical networks and small cities with digital networks, going global.”

Major U.S. cities that improved dramatically in the ranking included Chicago (11), Dallas-Fort Worth (13), Seattle (15), Houston (17), Austin (29), Denver (31) and Philadelphia (32) due to favorable trends and improved economic development.

Similar to Los Angeles, a series of Bay Area satellite cities such as San Diego (23), Portland (41), Oakland (up 12 places to 43 off a stronger economy), Sacramento (up 21 places to 59) and Santa-Ana-Anaheim (up 37 places) reinforced their destination attractiveness to tech companies priced out of the San Francisco Bay Area in the analysis.

Globally, the overall winner was Tokyo, the first time an Asian city won the city rankings since their inception in 2007. Other top 10 global cities of the Innovation Cities Index included previous winners London (won 2015, 2017), Singapore (6), Paris (9) and Australian city of Sydney (host of the 2000 Olympics) a newcomer.

North American cities were represented in the top 100 cities with 37 cities in the U.S., five in Canada and Mexico City (73) being the new winner in Latin America. This left 43 cities within the top 100 in the NAFTA Zone, the highest ever result for the bloc.

Larger Canadian cities continued their top rankings with few changes including Vancouver (25) and Québec City (58). Lower business costs and improved innovation policies lead Ottawa (126), Halifax (202) and Hamilton (205) to achieve above average positions relative to their smaller populations with potential to improve in future years.

Behind the rankings is the analysis that cities with higher rates of innovation will make more revenue, create more jobs and lead other cities as the best destinations to invest in commercial product, service or social innovation.

The Innovation Cities Index has been published annually since 2007 by 2thinknow to measure cities’ pre-conditions for innovation using 162 indicators based on comparative data sold to corporations.