How the Innovation Cities concept grew from Melbourne & Vienna in 2005

Innovation City of FutureThe Innovation Cities concept was originated by Christopher Hire in 2005 in Melbourne, Australia. It commenced with initial visits to European cities starting from Vienna after his research notes.

In 2006, after the establishment of the 2thinknow brand, this was expanded to include North America & other cities.

The City Climate in Boom Times.

After a review of Cities and Innovation literature, in conjunction with tools from previous analysis projects for corporate clients 2thinknow modeled the innovation process.

At the time of this development, the closest competing thinking on cities was Richard Florida’s Creative Class – the competition for global talent being his key theme. Much of the public conversation was ‘boom time’ – focused on ‘transitory, cool & hip’ rather than balanced performance. Relatedly, popular author Daniel Pink also made some key points on business creativity.

There were also numerous more academic theoretical texts & cultural development thinking, notably from leaders like Landry, Carrillo and Komninos.

At the time, which was pre-GFC, and most City Rankings were livability-based (most popularly by Mercer or EIU).

The focus of existing thinking was however largely on creativity or economics, and 2thinknow felt a 3rd stage was needed to be added to all the academic ‘Cities Knowledge’ complete a useful, replicable innovation model. And also that a new ranking that took a broader view less tied to a specific time-period.

A Broader Economic, Technological & Social View.

In 2006 it became apparent through Nascent Trends, the limitations of conventional rational economic analysis (how we should behave), and cost-benefit-thinking ; at the same time as Behavioral Economics (how we do behave) was growing in popularity.

Books like ‘Freakonomics’ popularized thoughts and memes, found in the works of authors like Ackermann & Heinzerling, Krugmann, Stiglitz, de Botton & Bosshart about limitation of the practical economic paradigm – as well as numerous models of networked societies. Our uniqueness was applying this to cities to build a model as an answer to future challenges.

In 2006, City Planning & economic development was broadly ignoring these trends.

Innovation Cities – built-in Markets & Networks

Resulting models developed included the all 3 elements in the Hire Innovation Loop based on the Innovation Pockets Insight. 44 Key City Innovation Indicators (then called ‘Flags) were developed during this period.

The crucial Hire Innovation Loop Model is explained in detail in the printed reports. More on this development is included in the Global Innovation Review 2007 Annual book, available in reprint.

This stage was sustained & funded through the operations of technology & management consulting.

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