How Cities Create & Emit Innovation
How do the worlds cities create innovation and distribute it globally, classifications from the Innovation Cities™ Index
You probably wonder how smartphones and global broadband changed the world. Or at least you may wonder what the key drivers of that change are?
I do not blame you.
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It is an interesting question. And it has a relatively logical answer.
(If the ideas below appeal please quote us or invite me on your podcast. Do not plagiarise - you do realise that is obvious.)
Cities are Centres of Innovation
Like in the Industrial Revolution before it, the Digital Revolution centres on cities.
Whereas once Sheffield was the centre of steel, and Edinburgh of ships, and Melbourne of gold… now the digital infrastructure and fabric of the world has centres.
Physical goods had logistical centers.
Digital goods and ideas - largely digital in form even if physically executed - have centers. (Most goods are designed or fulfiled digitally now. So every physical bit has more bytes than kilos of weight).
These digital centers are cities.
Using the Innovation Cities™ Index we score and rank 500 cities for innovation. Using 162 indicators grouped into 3 factors. This covers innovation conditions in 31 portfolio areas.
Portfolio areas roughly map to industries or government departments. E.g. travel and tourism, mobility (cars and public transport), Retail, Education, Military etc.
This process creates a lot of unmined insights. Juicy stuff. Please ask us for data needs.
But if this sounds a shed load of work, it is.
That said, we started in 2007 from 2005 research. So we had some time to get this process right.
Innovation makes Resilient Cities
This process has a bonus. Those cities that do well across many indicators have better innovation eco-systems.
Making them more resilient - to use the word that entered the conference circuit circa 2012 - and now has been cultivated into our curated conversations of 2022.
Resilience is everywhere.
Cities that score better for innovation also turn out probably be more anti-fragile (the Nassim Taleb version of resilience).
Of course we are focussed on innovation. But inovation generally correlates to resilience all things being equal.
Classifying Cities for the Win
What is a simpler lens than getting caught up in whether a city ranks 67 or 71?(remarkably similar but not to the human ‘difference engine’ mind.
It is a lot easier to use classifications.
Fortunately we publish 4 classifications with each release of the Index to help you.
So you can better understand the annual Index, here are the 4 classification bands. And what they mean to you.
How City Classifications Work
Each city after scoring can be classified into a band for innovation potential at the current time.
Rather than focusing solely on 'rank' it's most instructive to look at classification to see a city innovation potential.
Cities at the top few % globally.
A critical nexus for multiple economic and social innovation pre-conditions across multiple industry segments.
Top Nexus cities tend to be the least volatile places for innovation. e.g. Boston, Vienna, San-Francisco-San Jose, London, New York, Amsterdam, Toronto. For more see the list.
Such cities are not perfect but within their greater sphere, are destinations for innovation, despite the trends and whims of the current time.
A challenger city, innovating in key portfolios.
Dominance or influence on key economic and social innovation portfolios , based on current global trends.
Hub cities can change from year to year, and are more adventurous locations for innovation. Hub Cities can over time consolidate and become Nexus Cities.
Globally competitive city.
Globally competitive with competitive performance across many innovation portfolio.
Node cities tend to be stable, globally competitive locations, but need to transition to Hub cities to become more powerful globally for innovation.
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 2016-2017. The previous 5th classification.
All cities outside this are 'Unclassified'. Generally these are small or highly emerging cities, or cities impacted by war badly over time.
So there you have it the 4 classifications.
Agree? Disagree? Download the index and tell us why.
Who knows we may take a second look at data if your city is on the cusp and is quickly improving.
And maybe you could consider premises in Nexus cities?
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