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The world's most innovative cities past present future - oct 2020

Cities are where innovation happens, where most ideas form and economic growth largely stems. For centuries, the world’s most innovative cities have been acting as global catalysts for change, and will continue to do so. As more cities seek to have impact over the next decades, we need to better understand what drives success and so identify those that may have greatest lasting impact.

APPROACH – Getting Clarity

Future Agenda has been conducting multiple discussions around the world on the future of cities ( Our aim is to explore the range of views about what makes one city more successful, more influential and more innovative than other, and also consider key related issues such as the future of work, health, trade, trust, transport and data.

In addition, we have applied a similar modelling technique to those applied to Innovation Leaders which, for twenty years, has identified the companies that have been the best and most sustained innovators, in order to assess what potentially makes one city more innovative than another. Exploring multiple criteria, we have highlighted some core global catalysts for change.

To accompany a speech at the WRLDCTY event, this presentation shares some of the salient insights: It profiles some of most innovative cities of the past, identifying the key elements that contributed to their success, highlights some of the pivotal cities having greatest impact today, and, lastly, suggests ten cities for future global innovation leadership.

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The world's most innovative cities past present future - oct 2020

  1. 1. Global Catalysts The World’s Most Innovative Cities | Past - Present - Future Oct 2020
  2. 2. CONTEXT – Innovative Cities Cities are where innovation happens, where most ideas form and economic growth largely stems. 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.
  3. 3. APPROACH – Getting Clarity Within a mass of different views we have been applying the Innovation Leaders approach to assess the most innovative cities in the past, the present and in the future. Exploring multiple criteria, we have highlighted some core global catalysts for change.
  4. 4. Structure of This Talk This presentation shares insights: it profiles some of most innovative cities of the past, the key elements that contribute to success, some cities having greatest impact today, and, lastly, suggests the ten cities for future global innovation leadership. World’s Most Innovative Cities of the Past Key Elements of a World-Leading Innovative City World’s Most Innovative Cities of the Present World’s Most Innovative Cities of the Future
  6. 6. ALEXANDRIA Home to the most significant library of ancient times as well as the Pharos lighthouse - one of the Seven Wonders of the world - the capital of Egypt for nearly 1000 years was a leading trading centre and a hub of international shipping.
  7. 7. AMSTERDAM Amsterdam originated as a fishing village in the c12th and became one of the world’s most important ports and a leader in innovative trade in the c17th. It created the world’s first stock exchange and was the wealthiest global city for over 100 years.
  8. 8. ATHENS The complex Ancient Greek capital was the birthplace of democracy and centre of learning. It attracted talent and led development across architecture, astronomy, cartography, geometry, medicine and philosophy. The Agora was a key focal point.
  9. 9. CONSTANTINOPLE The capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, Constantinople was capital of the Roman Empire from 330AD. From the c5th to c13th it was the largest city in Europe – a centre of East-West trade, famed globally for its massive defences and its architecture.
  10. 10. FLORENCE The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence was the leading hub for major developments in commerce, patronage, art and architecture. It was also a centre for technology, scientific, legal and civic leadership innovation with lasting impact.
  11. 11. HANGZHOU Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, was a major city for the Tang dynasty – one of the ancient capitals of China. A bastion of culture during the c10th, it became a global trade hub during the Song dynasty and then seat of the imperial government in c13th.
  12. 12. HONG KONG As a centre of regional trade, Hong Kong was at the fore in innovation in the c19th. Financial prowess has been pivotal: Telegraphy enabled real-time decision making for the global market and the city became a hub for technology transfer with China.
  13. 13. PARIS Reaching its peak in the c18th and 19th as a hub of finance, commerce, publishing, fashion, science and the arts, Paris - the epicentre of the Age of Enlightenment – was significantly remodelled by Haussmann - reducing over-crowding, crime and disease.
  14. 14. PETRA A major trade hub between Europe and the East for centuries, Petra’s huge 40-year building project to create a major centre however failed to regain its regional leadership as the Romans used economic influence to take over from the Nabataeans.
  15. 15. VENICE Created from scratch as a sanctuary in the c6th Venice proactively became an iconic destination and a major centre of trade with the East. As trade declined, it became the part of the Grand Tour for three centuries and a centre of cultural exploration.
  17. 17. Innovative Cities – The Key Elements From the analysis, we see ten key criteria that have had greatest impact to date. As urban leaders seek to address the challenges of the 21st century, these also help to highlight which cities are the most innovative today and maybe in the future. TenKeyCriteria Open and tolerant society Collaborative and supportive Global talent magnet Access to capital Advancing public health Leading centre of learning Connectedness and influence Flexible and adaptable Centre of technology creation Visionary civic leadership
  18. 18. FLORENCE – A Closer Look The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence was the leading hub for major developments in commerce, patronage, art and architecture. It was also a centre for technology, scientific, legal and civic leadership innovation with lasting impact.
  19. 19. FLORENCE: Collaborative and Supportive In 100 bottegas cross-fertilization and sharing of ideas was part of everyday life. As an apprentice at ‘Verrocchio & Co’, Leonardo da Vinci worked alongside leading painters, sculptors and other artists for over a decade.
  20. 20. FLORENCE: Connectedness and Influence Florence was a hub in the cloth trade; the Florin became the standard gold coin – the first international currency. With bases in London and Geneva, Florentine bankers financed c15th Portuguese exploration around Africa to India and the Far East.
  21. 21. FLORENCE: Centre of Technology Creation Florence was a centre of excellence for scientific research. Brunelleschi’s roof for the Duomo was considered ingenious. Galileo and co pioneered the study of optics, ballistics, astronomy and anatomy: For aspiring scientists it was the place to be.
  22. 22. FLORENCE: Visionary Civic Leadership Florence’s leaders used their own version of the X-Prize to push ideas. Designing and building the ‘Gates of Paradise’ is perhaps most famous from 1401. The dome on the Duomo di Firenze was another major project in 1418.
  24. 24. BENGALURU India’s leading IT hub attracts many of the world’s leading technology firms, as well as nurturing successful start-ups. Seen as the Silicon Valley of India it boasts leading research institutions as well as numerous aerospace / defence companies.
  25. 25. BOSTON Home to some of the world’s most respected universities, Boston is a global leader in innovation, research, technology and life sciences thanks to the concentration of human capital and quality of research institutions - including MIT and Harvard.
  26. 26. LONDON London has a host of leading universities with centuries of track-record, a progressive open collaborative culture and access to capital. A city that has realigned around new opportunities multiple times in the past is now, yet again, refocusing itself for the future.
  27. 27. MUNICH The Bavarian capital is a post-war German economic powerhouse and HQ for global leaders in manufacturing and finance. A centre for universities and many international bodies, Munich is a fast-growing city and a major destination for migration.
  28. 28. SAN FRANCISCO The world’s foremost innovation ecosystem continues to attract talent, business and capital. A popular tourist destination with a very open culture, it is a global centre of education, invention and venture capital and home to many world-leading companies.
  29. 29. SEOUL Home to half the South Korean population, Seoul is now the world’s 4th largest metropolitan economy. It has built leading transport infrastructure, is a leading technology hub and the most wired city in the world: A city constantly on the move.
  30. 30. SINGAPORE A magnet for talent, investment and trade that, since its independence, has looked forward, grown its economy and provided steady improvement in public services for its fast-evolving population that mixes people from multiple immigrant populations.
  31. 31. STOCKHOLM Ranked as the 2nd best ecosystem in the world for start-ups, Stockholm is HQ for a wide range of technology firms. With highly open city governance, it has connected every citizen to fibre and is one of the cleanest, healthiest metropolises in the world.
  32. 32. TEL AVIV Israel’s technology hub, Tel Aviv is a global centre for healthcare, security, green tech and automation. Seen by some as close to rivalling California as the world’s start-up capital, it has a strong beach culture and attracts many young nomadic entrepreneurs.
  33. 33. TOKYO A city that embraces its past yet continuously reinvents itself to fit the future, Tokyo is a place literally on the edge that pushes new technology to create one of the most connected and interconnected urban infrastructures in the world.
  35. 35. The Future Shortlist From the initial analysis we identified 25 cities as potential candidates be the world’s most innovative cities in the future. As we have continued the research and explored these in more depth we can now detail the top 10. Vancouver Seattle Toronto Austin Bogota Santiago Beijing Osaka Shanghai Shenzhen Taipei Ho Chi Minh Kuala Lumpur Sydney Melbourne Auckland Dubai Hyderabad Nairobi Cape Town Tallinn Copenhagen Cambridge Vienna Barcelona
  36. 36. The 2050 View Looking ahead, as well as existing criteria, there will be five additional issues that we suggest will determine which global cities will be seen as the most innovative. 2050 Faster Decarbonisation Equitable Growth Safe and Secure Breathable Cities Accessible Cities
  37. 37. Top 10 Innovative Cities for 2050 From what we can foresee and how cities are aligning around the pivotal global trends, there are ten cities that look to be leading the next wave of civic innovation. 1 Copenhagen 2 Melbourne 3 Vienna 4 Osaka 5 Toronto 6 Barcelona 7 Auckland 8 Shenzhen 9 Seattle 10 Dubai
  38. 38. COPENHAGEN With excellent transport systems, a strong environmental focus, innovative (re)use of infrastructure and one of the lowest GINI coefficients in the world, safe Copenhagen is targeting low NO2 and rapid decarbonisation as part of a 2035 strategy.
  39. 39. MELBOURNE The world’s most liveable city is affordable, healthy and, with extensive multi-modal public transport, highly accessible. Melbourne’s start-up and innovation ecosystem is maturing as it elevates from a tech hub for Australia to one for the Asia Pacific region.
  40. 40. VIENNA A pivotal centre for technology development, Vienna’s excellent infrastructure and social systems has, once again, made it a major focal point for setting future standards. Close cooperation between city, companies and international organisations is growing.
  41. 41. OSAKA Japan’s second largest city is also its economic hub. Close cooperation / experimentation between city, universities and companies is at the fore, while major infrastructure projects have centre stage. Its international outlook keeps it future focused.
  42. 42. TORONTO One of North America’s more equal and tolerant cities, Toronto is also one of its safest and a great talent magnet. It has clear targets for 2050 decarbonisation, is rethinking urban mobility and has become a leading centre of innovation and VC activity.
  43. 43. BARCELONA A city transformed into a leading service innovation hub; Barcelona is focused on being a safer, more liveable and equitable for its citizens as well as an international talent magnet. Independence and resilience are driving the next phase of its development.
  44. 44. AUCKLAND A centre of entrepreneurship for Asia Pac, Auckland’s leadership is driving the city to be more collaborative and exploit its connectedness. Government and private sector action is well aligned with the use of digital and data analytics integrated in the future strategy.
  45. 45. SHENZHEN One of China’s tech powerhouses, Shenzhen’s plans for a cleaner, more connected city are driving a host of improvements across transportation, health and business. Competing with Shanghai and Beijing for national leadership is accelerating action.
  46. 46. SEATTLE HQ for several global tech firms, Seattle is building on its reputation as the most liveable US city. Data analysis is open for all to track progress against the key priorities for a city government increasingly focused on setting national standards.
  47. 47. DUBAI One of the world’s most connected cities, Dubai has been proactive on digital and public sector innovation. Key challenges include inequality, sustainability, a lack of home-grown world-class universities and attracting truly leading-edge, global talent.
  48. 48. Future Agenda, 84 Brook Street, London W1K 5EH +44 203 0088 141 | @futureagenda