Tokyo named most innovative city in annual ranking

Tokio Japonsko

Tokyo has topped a list of the world’s most innovative cities after performing strongly in the areas of technology application, digital capability and pandemic performance.

The Japanese capital had leapfrogged previous winner Boston and a ‘recovering’ New York City due to strong med-tech and research capabilities to win. According to 2thinknow’s analysis this was followed by ‘surprise’ economic winner Australia’s Sydney (4), and ‘perennial’ top-10 technology city, Singapore (5).

US cities performance

For the first time in 14 years of results, more than half (54 per cent) of the top 100 cities were from the US. The ranking included often over-looked cities like Little Rock (82) and Omaha (86). US cities’ performance was described as a “jaw-dropping unexpected result” by the data analyst firm.

Texas powerhouses of Dallas-Fort Worth (6) and Houston (8) rounded out the global top-10 this year based on economic in-flows, beating out Chicago (9), Silicon Valley (12), Atlanta (13) and Seattle (14).

“The mass exodus from major American cities has strengthened home-town innovation, as local expertise flooded back to their roots… and dialled-in via Zoom or Teams. This is due to superior US digital skills and platforms,” said Christopher Hire, director at 2thinknow.

The research found that outside consistently high-ranked European capitals, digital transformation was slow. Paris (10) placed first in Europe, ahead of a “rapidly falling” London (11), Vienna (22), Amsterdam (24) and Berlin (30).

2thinknow noted Sweden’s Stockholm (16) was one of few European bright spots up 16 places with a strong result in start-ups and digital, after “paying the pandemic price early”.

The same US exodus to regional centres had the opposite effect of slowing innovation across Europe. Cities in Germany and France dropped by an average of 77 and 85 places respectively, even with capitals included. Decades of gains were reversed in the UK also.

In Asia, Seoul was placed 7th while Shanghai skyrocketed to 15th ahead of Beijing at 19th, as Chinese cities surged an average of 77 places. Technology hub Shenzhen (26) rose behind Taipei (23) in Taiwan. Globally, Dubai (29) remained a winner, with flexible pandemic policies and commitment to trade.

2thinknow reports the 162 quantitative indicators were this year adjusted to address digital transformation, economic recovery, start-ups, technology, smart cities, science, engineering, creativity, mobility, and other key civic areas. Data included latest Covid-19 city results.

In terms of threats, the analyst noted that the Innovation Cities Index was based on a shorter timeframe than usual. This was due to risks to innovation such as rapid inflation, ongoing fiscal stimulus, and systemic infringements on personal liberty.


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