MEDIA RELEASE: Innovation Cities Index 2014 Launch




8th annual Innovation Cities Index 2014 released today by 2thinknow in Melbourne, Australia. Index classifies and ranks 445 cities as innovation economies.

2THINKNOW // MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Silicon Valley beat previous winners Boston, New York and Vienna to become the world’s most innovative city in 2014, in the 8th annual Innovation Cities Index released by global innovation agency, 2thinknow.

Behind the San Francisco – San Jose area, this year’s winners for the global innovation economy in order were New York, London, Boston (past winner), Paris, Vienna, Munich, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Seattle in the global top cities. Regionally, San Francisco – San Jose won in the Americas, Seoul won for the first time in Asia, London won in Europe and Dubai came first in the Emerging region for the second time. Sydney beat long time Australian winner Melbourne for first place overall, and 17th globally.

According to the analysts, this year’s ranking reinforces the power of Silicon Valley, just when many voices are questioning the Valley’s role in both tech and non-tech innovation.

“Innovation is now a city based phenomenon. In the Mid-East, Dubai outstrips most U.S. or global cities in innovation in the architecture sector for example,” said Christopher Hire, Executive Director at 2thinknow.

“The most important aspect of innovation at this time is moving towards the productive economy that creates value — and away from a stagnant and negative economy of non-investment. 2thinknow take a broad-based view of a city’s urban innovation economy, using 31 segments.”

“In terms of a trend we previously highlighted, the new or re-shored manufacturing trend mixed with the tech sector we see some U.S. cities now starting to re-ignite their broader productive industrial and manufacturing economy. Other cities such as first time European winner London have used the post-GFC period as an opportunity to create a potential base for cultural, knowledge and multi-sector innovation. Cities such as first time Asian winner Seoul, then Tokyo, are however catching up to their North American and European counterparts in creating broad-based innovation infrastructure across their cities,” Hire added.

After the top 10, other fast moving cities this year were Tel Aviv (now 24th), Helsinki (up eleven places to 25th), Singapore (now 27th), Tokyo (up ten places to 15) and Oslo (up six places to 32nd).

Helsinki’s movement was attributed by the analysts to their data initiatives, and Tel Aviv in part to their active start-up sector. Singapore rose due to well-rounded multi-sector performance, and Tokyo had recently begun a reform process which had begun to restore the Japanese capitals innovation potential at this time.

2thinknow analysts publish the Index every year to measure the potential for innovation in cities, on the economic basis that cities with more innovation will have higher economic output.

According to the analysts, top-ranked cities are the best destinations to invest in commercial product, service or social innovation without a specific industry focus. For a specific industry focus or research area, the analysts recommend consulting their City Benchmarking Data product.

Besides the global Index the regional indexes produced a wide variety of results.

United States, Canada & Latin America

In the United States top Nexus cities after the top 10 included Los Angeles (14), rising Chicago (21), Washington DC (26) and Philadelphia (31). Fast risers Raleigh-Durham (40) and Houston (42) were followed by Austin (44), Dallas-Fort Worth (46) then Orlando and Miami.

“The story in the U.S. is the distribution of innovation across major cities with large population bases. This is in part due to larger domestic markets within the city and related networked markets within the city. Americans have a choice of a wide range of locations to form start-ups or commercialize innovation,” said Mr Hire.

“After the new oil boom, 3-D Manufacturing and the Maker movement can further spread innovative new businesses as part of an emerging artisan economy, which we first raised in 2007. How do you employ more people? Encourage them to produce better tailored products which require more labour.”

“The key is products with demand, not products which no one wants. So meeting consumer and business demands remains key in the large U.S. market.”

In Canada, Toronto remained first and 11th globally. This was followed by Montréal (36th globally), Vancouver (39), Québec (69) and fast mover Calgary (92) then Edmonton (122). Ottawa and Winnipeg also moved up in score compared to 2013.

“Calgary has a booming economy as the effects of the new oil boom can hopefully be translated into a broader innovation economy for the Alberta region. The Toronto region and northwards remains strong but can utilize its diverse economic profile to see a further rise.”

In Latin America, São Paulo (123) and Rio de Janeiro (138) moved up to first place while Mexico City (187) fell in the increasingly volatile region. Buenos Aires (242) remained steady, while improvements in Colombia saw Medellin (265) rise further in the index ahead of Bogotá (315).

“We believe Brazilian cities are improving relative to competitors in Mexico, despite similar security challenges. Partly this is due to the growth of Brazil’s mid-size enterprises and their support networks relative to Mexico’s smaller firms,” Hire added.

Asia & Oceania

In Asia, Seoul (12) rose rapidly to Asian region first place, ahead of Tokyo (15), fast rising Sydney (17) and past regional winners Hong Kong (20) and Melbourne (23). Singapore (27) rose above Kyoto (34) and Shanghai (35) who beat rising Beijing (50). In Australia and New Zealand, Brisbane (60) rose to separate itself from Auckland (106), Wellington (121), Adelaide (160), Perth (183) and the Gold Coast (185).

For China, Nanjing (127), Suzhou (182) and Guangzhou (190) rose amidst falls in other mainland Chinese cities. In India, the globally rising city of Mumbai (91) was ahead of Bangalore (184), Delhi (256), Chennai (262) and Pune (267) were top-ranked.

“The confluence of technology and infrastructure in innovation is shown in the winner Seoul, which is often overlooked — yet home to globally important companies like Samsung, Hyundai and LG. Nationally, China continues to dominate as an economy, but on a city basis Korean and Japanese cities are growing as innovation locations and innovative producers”, Mr Hire said.

“In Asia there may be profound upward shifts based on investment and in some cases falls based on a lack of addressing key soft or hard infrastructure issues. In Australia and New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane lead the pack for innovation opportunity in some commercial sectors of the economy.”

Europe & Russia

In Europe, London (3rd globally) displaced former European winners Paris (5) and Vienna (6). Other top-ranked European cities were Munich (7th falling one place), Amsterdam (8), Copenhagen (9) and risers such as Helsinki (25), Oslo (32) and Leipzig (33). Barcelona (56) remained Spain’s top-ranked city and Moscow (63) was Russia’s top-ranked city ahead of St Petersburg (81). Prague (62) and Budapest (64) were the top cities in East Europe ahead of fast-riser Belgrade (104). Tirana (385) in Albania remained a fast riser with the analysts predicting further improvement.

“In Europe, many cities have superior human infrastructure for innovation, and create many economic and social innovations. London has reversed some of the mistakes of the pre-GFC period and capitalised on the business prowess and knowledge of U.K. companies as the titular head of the U.K. Likewise, Paris is at the head of many design related segments, and remains a grand arbiter of creative thought. In countries like Germany, innovation remains distributed across many cities through their excellent industrialization processes,” Hire added.

“Interestingly, Scandinavian countries produce a spiky innovation climate centred on their capital cities. In East Europe, global connections and embedded innovation capacity remain essential.”

Mid-East, Africa & Eurasia

In the Middle-East, Dubai (28th globally) remained the innovative capital of the Gulf ahead of Abu Dhabi (65).

“With towering buildings, a profound structural belief in visible innovation within those who are expatriates — Dubai continues to grow in global importance by building a multi-sector performance in innovation. Other Emirates cities are likely to emerge as important in innovation. The Middle East has become more of a destination for innovation, as predicted in 2012-2013.” Hire added.

“Istanbul remained in the top 100 despite recent problems damaging its inherent advantages. Internal innovative ideas rarely become commercial successes without global trade and co-operation. Governments should avoid unmanaged instability to increase innovation potential. For stabilizing environments, preventing crimes like armed kidnappings or car-jacking are some of the basic steps to stability.”

In Africa, Cape Town (128) remain top-ranked. Dar es Salaam (429) and Dakar (439) were rising cities regionally.

In Eurasia, recent instability saw Baku (345) rise ahead of Lviv (350) as Kiev (361) fell. Pakistan cities Karachi (438) and Lahore (441) remained among the worst regionally, and the lowest ranked cities globally were Lagos (443), Kinshasa (444) and Kabul (445).


These were the results from the Innovation Cities Program, which is overseen by 2thinknow, and published as an annual index of the world’s top city innovation economies. The index assesses which locations around the world have the best conditions for development of commercial innovation. To do this each city is classified into 5 performance bands, with the top scored cities classified as a Nexus and the next a Hub. There were 40 Nexus cities this year, and 97 Hub cities from 445 cities in total.

The balance of cities were classified as Node cities or in two lower performance bands. According to the analyst’s classification, Node cities are globally competitive for innovation. The lower two bands of Upstart and Influencer were named as strong classifications for developing cities.

The analysts comment that city performance is more flexible, changeable and faster to turn around than national performance.



Christopher Hire
Executive Director, 2thinknow
+61 3 8678 0319
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More than 63% of cities over 1 million population monitor the Index results, and many major entities such as PWC, Brookings Institution, UN Habitat and Jones Lang LaSalle use the Index results to assess broad-based city innovation. Underlying City Benchmarking Data is used for decision making for projects by major cities and 2thinknow’s top corporate clients Samsung, Ogilvy, BCG and Ernst & Young.

The Innovation Cities Index is based on 2thinknow analysts consulting 162 indicators of City Benchmarking Data across a diverse range of 31 segments in all cities. Unlike other innovation measures, the Innovation Cities index is not based on patent filings nor liveability (although it incorporates these elements).

Top cities are scored and classified, then ranked by the analysts based on 21 current global trends, listed in the shortly thereafter released semi-annual Innovation Cities Analysis report available to order from 2thinknow. The indicators framework, models and global analysis of trend impact were also outlined in the report. The analysis in report previously predicted the basis for the global financial crisis, the strength of the German economy, the current basis of the Ukraine crisis and the rise of 3D manufacturing.

Current report:

The Innovation Cities Index has been published since 2007 and expanded the index in 2009 to 289 cities, since then it is now 445 cities. All years are available online at and a basic Excel file can be downloaded sufficient for most articles.

Or a detailed Excel file can be requested by journalists/writers for long form articles.


Innovation Cities Index 2014 : Global  — Top 20 cities below:

Global Rank Classification City State Country Index Score
1 1 NEXUS San Francisco – San Jose California United States 57
2 1 NEXUS New York New York United States 56
3 1 NEXUS London United Kingdom 56
4 1 NEXUS Boston Massachusetts United States 56
5 1 NEXUS Paris France 56
6 1 NEXUS Vienna Austria 56
7 1 NEXUS Munich Germany 56
8 1 NEXUS Amsterdam Netherlands 55
9 1 NEXUS Copenhagen Denmark 55
10 1 NEXUS Seattle Washington United States 54
11 1 NEXUS Toronto Canada 54
12 1 NEXUS Seoul South Korea 54
13 1 NEXUS Berlin Germany 54
14 1 NEXUS Los Angeles California United States 54
15 1 NEXUS Tokyo Tokyo Japan 53
16 1 NEXUS Stockholm Sweden 53
17 1 NEXUS Sydney NSW Australia 53
18 1 NEXUS Hamburg Germany 53
19 1 NEXUS Lyon France 53
20 1 NEXUS Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong 53

Text Links and Tables for Reproduction

Full tables are in each of these links.






USA | Canada | Latin America | Europe | Russia | Australia/NZ | China | India | Japan | Asia-Pacific | Mid-East | Africa | Eurasia

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Index Resources: 2014 Overview | FAQ | Media Release | Top 100


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2thinknow is the world’s first innovation agency established in Melbourne in 2006. The Innovation Cities Program by 2thinknow commenced in 2007 from 2005 research. 2thinknow develops innovative data collection and analysis techniques based on sector innovation by city location.

2thinknow delivers City Benchmarking Data, analyst reports, the Innovation Course and other innovation services to city, business and government clients. See

DISCLAIMER — You Should Know…

All Innovation Cities Indexes (the “Indexes”) are for information purposes only and are intended for as a general purpose ranking measuring the relative importance of cities to the innovation economy. Practise in this area is continually changing and emerging, so the methodologies and processes change from year to year, and the availability of data changes from city to city. While the Indexes have been prepared based upon the best available information, they are provided on an “as-is” basis, and 2thinknow accepts no responsibility/liability for the validity/accuracy (or otherwise) of the resources/data used to compile the Indexes. In no event will 2thinknow be liable to for any decision made or action taken in reliance of the results obtained through the use of, or the information and/or data contained in or provided by, the Indexes. 2thinknow and its representatives make no representations or warranties with respect to the Indexes, and disclaim all express, implied and statutory warranties of any kind, including, but not limited to, representations and implied warranties of quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.