Innovation City Classifications

The Innovation Cities™ Index classifies all cities into 4 classes for innovation.

Classifications are the best indicator of a cities ‘interchangeability’ as an innovation destination. Cities within the same category are have simialr potential for innovation. However, cities are ranked to clarify this, with more difference between cities occuring within the top 100 (less points separate cities in each group below 100 cities).

In brackets are the number of cities in 2016-2017 in each category.


A city at the top few % globally.

A critical nexus for multiple economic and social innovation pre-conditions across multiple industry segments.

Hub Cities

A challenger city, innovating in key segments.

Dominance or influence on key economic and social innovation segments , based on current global trends.

Node Cities

Globally competitive city.

Globally competitive with competitive performance across many innovation segments.


A city moving towards being globally competitive.

Cities that are not quite globally competitive yet, but with broad improvement across multiple indicators can achieve Node Status.

For an Upstart to become a Node, simple improvements need to be made in a variety of indicators, improving the cities innovation potential and economic opportunity

* Note ‘Upstart’ now includes ‘Influencer’ cities since 2016-.

All cities outside this are ‘Unclassified’.

2016-2017 Notes:

Each year since 2009, analyst classifications of all major global cities are released as the Innovation Cities™ Index (on this site). The top two tiers cities are Nexus and Hub cities. Node cities are globally competitive.

Fuller explanations of each classification are available accompanying the year’s Index, and accompanying report.

Please note a 5th Influencer category existed between Node and Upstart, prior to 2016 and now has been combined with Upstart.

Annual City Rankings

2thinknow analysts have ranked the top cities since 2007. Since 2012-2013 all cities have been ranked.