The 25 Most Innovative Cities in the World
Human-helping robots, smart districts and a tiny town devoted to self-driving cars — these are just a few unique traits of the world’s most innovative and high-tech cities.
The data firm 2ThinkNow recently released its 2018 Innovation Cities Index, which ranks 500 cities around the globe using an exhaustive number of indicators of segments. These are the top 25. While they’re all awesome in different ways, they’re all on the cutting-edge of high tech.
Whether you’re looking for a job or just looking to live in a city that thinks ahead, these cities have a booming tech sector and some truly innovative ideas.
25. Vancouver, Canada
Points of Innovation: Vancouver slipped one spot in this year’s index, but still kept itself within the the top 25. This city gave birth to Slack, Hootsuite and Avigilon, and employs 75,000 people in its tech space, which generates over $23 billion in revenue.
24. Washington D.C.
Points of Innovation: A 2018 study by WalletHub projects that D.C. will have the highest demand for STEM jobs in the entire United States by 2020, and the capital city currently has the highest share of science and engineering graduates over 25 years old. One huge tech business is cybersecurity, which makes sense given the government’s growing need to protect against hostile agents.
23. San Diego, California
Population: 1.42 million
Points of Innovation: More than one quarter of San Diego’s economic activity comes from tech companies. And there’s no shortage of them — over 400 startups open their doors in this city each year. San Diego also has many biotech and pharmaceutical companies, like Neurocrine Biosciences and Pfizer.
22. Montreal, Canada
Population: 1.7 million
Points of Innovation: Montreal’s major tech sector includes AI, video games, and manufacturing and robotics. It employs over 10,000 people in the video game industry and 120,000 people in the manufacturing sector. In 2018, Montreal led Canada in venture capital funding with $800 million in investments.
21. Munich, Germany
Population: 1.45 million
Points of Innovation: Since 2016, Munich has been turning a district of 30,000 people into a “smart district,” which aims to reduce fossil fuel consumption, increase energy efficiency, and create “mobility stations” that can be used to exchange and deliver goods. Big companies in Munich include BMW, Allianz and Tado.
20. Atlanta, Georgia
Points of Innovation: Atlanta has been growing its tech industry for a while, with tech jobs growing by 46.7 percent since 2010, 20 points above the national average. It also has Google Fiber.
19. Vienna, Austria
Population: 1.8 million
Points of Innovation: Vienna has a booming and innovative industry in medical science and technology, and ranks as the city with the best quality of life by Mercer.
18. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Points of Innovation: Since 2009, Amsterdam has taken the initiative to be a smart city innovator, using new technology to monitor traffic flow, endlessly collect various data, employ digital pay-to-park methods and even streamline trash collection.
17. Houston, Texas
Population: 2.3 million
Points of Innovation: In Q3 2018, Houston took 39 percent of all venture capital spent in the great state of Texas, nearly matching Austin’s 42 percent share. The Bayou City is even forming a whole new startup district.
16. Melbourne, Australia
Population: 5 million
Points of Innovation: Melbourne rocketed nine spots up on this year’s rankings. Not only is it a hub for tech, it has also enjoyed a seven-year reign as the world’s most liveable city — although it now sits at the No. 2 spot, having been dethroned by Vienna in 2018.
15. Seattle, Washington
Points of Innovation: Shooting up six spots from last year is Seattle, which has the second strongest tech market — San Francisco is first — in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the real estate firm CBRE. The city benefits from “brain gain,” meaning talented young workers are flocking to the city. It also has Amazon’s ridiculously cool, plant-filled headquarters.
14. Berlin, Germany
Population: 3.6 million
Points of Innovation: Berlin is also looking to be Europe’s tech hub, with a record €4.3 billion in startup venture capital raised in 2017 — an 88-percent increase over the previous year. Berlin-based startups to watch include GetYourGuide, Jodel and Movinga.
13. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Population: 7.4 million
Points of Innovation: This metroplex jumped three spots up since 2017. It’s home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and its startup scene is quickly growing.
12. Seoul, South Korea
Population: 9.7 million
Points of Innovation: Tourists had a good look at some of Seoul’s coolest new tech during the 2018 Winter Olympics, including a 5G network and self-driving busses. And while the U.S. languishes under internet companies throttling our download speeds, Seoul has internet that runs at 2.5 gigabits per second.
11. Chicago, Illinois
Population: 2.7 million
Points of Innovation: Chicago jumped nine spots on this year’s list, in part because of the city’s unique way of attracting and maintain talent. Instead of clustering tech companies in one big bubble, the city spreads companies throughout several neighborhoods, which creates “an ecosystem that supports talent and encourages it to stay, instead of being recruited elsewhere,” according to US News & World Report.
10. Sydney, Australia
Population: 5.1 million
Points of Innovation: Already a global powerhouse in technology and innovation, Sydney’s government will further develop its technology precinct and add 10,000 new jobs by 2036. Amazon recently bought a nine-floor office building in the city’s central business district — which is now being called “Silicon Place” — and Tesla, LinkedIn and Google also have offices in the area. The city moved up four spots since last year.
9. Paris, France
Population: 2.2 million
Points of Innovation: Some industry insiders predict Paris will become Europe’s new tech hub because Brexit has weakened London’s grip on the sector, according to Politico. Venture capitalists poured a record €2.5 billion into the sector last year.
8. Toronto, Canada
Population: 6.5 million
Points of Innovation: Artificial intelligence technology is growing at a rapid pace in Toronto, with startups raising $191 million in AI investments last year.
7. Boston, Massachusetts
Points of Innovation: If you’ve seen Boston Dynamic’s suspiciously human (and dog-like) robots, it’s no surprise that Boston is in this list’s top 10. And if you haven’t seen these robots in action, like this robot doing parkour, you should.
Population: 5.6 million
Points of Innovation: The world’s first driverless taxis launched in Singapore back in 2016. Since then, the city literally built a small town to research, develop and data collect everything they can about self-driving vehicles.
5. Los Angeles, California
Population: 4 million
Points of Innovation: Los Angeles is home to Silicon Beach, which houses over 500 startups and offices from major companies like Google and Salesforce.
4. New York City, New York
Population: 8.6 million
Points of Innovation: Silicon Valley isn’t the only area flush with startups and powerhouse businesses. The Big Apple employs more than 326,000 people in the tech field and is home to more than 7,000 startups. Within the city, $13 billion was invested in startups last year.
3. San Francisco-San Jose, California
Population: 7.76 million
Points of Innovation: No surprise here. The area is home to Silicon Valley, including Google, Facebook, Apple and innumerable high-tech startups. However, its future for startups — and retaining talent — is questionable, with one survey reporting that 46-percent of respondents are planning to leave the area, while the Economist reports that startups may pay up to four times more than anywhere else in America just to be in the Bay Area.
2. London, United Kingdom
Population: 8.1 million
Points of Innovation: London fell from its 2017 and 2016 spots as the most innovative city in the world, but the city is still incredibly innovative. The city has been making moves to become an innovation-driven city since 2012, with visions to make use of city-wide smart technologies, improved transportation and increased growth in its tech sector. Brexit, however, may change London’s trajectory.
1. Tokyo, Japan
Population: 9.3 million
Points of Innovation: Calling it the “robot capital” embracing “globe shaking trends of robotics and 3D manufacturing,” 2thinknow christened Tokyo the most innovative city in the world. Home of the 2020 Summer Olympics, the city is looking to employ robots to provide foreign language support and carry their bags at certain venues.