Global Catalysts: The World’s Most Innovative Cities – Past, Present and Future

The latest view on which cities are the most innovative – from yesterday, today and tomorrow has just been shared.

Cities are where innovation happens, where most ideas form and economic growth largely stems. They are also where significant problems can first emerge and where challenges are magnified. Cities grow because they are a focus for opportunity. As dynamic centres of commerce, cultural eclecticism and knowledge, they are magnets for all walks of life, frequently attracting the best minds. The world’s most innovative cities act as global catalysts for change. As more cities seek to have impact, we need to understand what drives success.

Building on previous posts on how to explore which cities are the most innovative and profiles of, and lessons from, Florence and Venice, this new presentation takes the next step. Over the past two years we have been researching which are the most innovative cities in the past, the present and potentially in the future. Exploring multiple examples and criteria, we have identified what we believe to be the key global catalysts for change.

Having reviewed many current perspectives on innovative cities, we have gone back in time to identify and profile the ten cities from the past that drove greatest change and see what lessons they can teach us: Alexandria, Amsterdam, Athens, Constantinople, Florence, Hangzouh, Hong Kong, Paris, Varanasi and Venice all have important insights on how and why such important cities developed, evolved, drove innovation and gained global influence.

Equally in assessing the ten most innovative cities in the world today, we have highlighted more issues: Bengaluru, Boston, London, Munich, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Stockholm, Tel Aviv and Tokyo are all leading in different ways but with many common features.

From this analysis we have distilled what we see as the ten most important ingredients for being a world-leading innovative city:

  1. Open and tolerant society
  2.  Collaborative and supportive
  3. Global talent magnet
  4. Access to capital
  5. Advancing public health
  6. Leading centre of learning
  7. Connectedness and influence
  8. Flexible and adaptable
  9. Centre of technology creation
  10. Visionary civic leadership

So now we are identifying which cities may become the most innovative in the future. We have started by creating a shortlist of 20 possible candidates where each is showing potential leadership in different regions, in different ways and in different circumstances. All are possible future global catalysts for change. They comprise, Seattle, Toronto, Austin, Santiago, Tallinn, Copenhagen, Cambridge, Vienna, Barcelona, Dubai, Hyderabad, Nairobi, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ho Chi Minh, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne and Auckland.

Over the next few months, we will be discussing, exploring and challenging this point of view with experts and informed individuals globally and looking to narrow the selection down to a potential future top 10. If you have any views, comments, feedback or alternative suggestions on this, please do let us know and we will make sure your perspectives are included as we move to the final report and shared analysis.

About the author

Dr. Tim Jones is a recognised expert in innovation, growth and futures. He is the author / editor of eight books and a regular speaker on innovation leadership, growth platforms and future trends. For over twenty-five years he has worked with many leading multinationals, governments and universities identifying emerging opportunities: A leader in collaborative programmes, Tim has made his name in helping organsiations to see the world through a different lens and so reveal new areas for potential growth. Tim is Programme Director of the Future Agenda – the world’s largest open foresight programme; leads the annual Innovation Leaders analysis that profiles the companies making the most of their innovation investments and is also co-founder of a global advisory network, The Growth Agenda.

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