MEDIA RELEASE: 16th Annual 500 City Ranking – Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023 Released


Innovation and Investment Propel Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore to the Top of City Ranking's List for Asia's Economic Rebound

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (2THINKNOW) – Tokyo again topped a list of the world’s most innovative cities on Thursday, ahead of past winners London and New York.

The Japanese capital repeated its 2021 feat, with the same placings as first managed in 2018. To be a winning city repeatedly, a city requires strong cultural assets. Beyond technology, the Japanese capital also has a burgeoning food, music and cultural creative scene.

Resurgent Paris (4), and rock-steady perennial Singapore (5), were other cities to use culture and advanced technology to innovate.

All top five winning cities had dominant Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech firms, as well as robotics programs. With over one-hundred AI startups, Silicon Valley (9) re-entered the global top-ten, despite its ongoing socio-economic, banking and urban problems.

“What really surprised us this year was the resilience of big cities slammed by lockdowns. Many of these cities created entirely new business areas in 12-months, in unexpected ways, and were first to bounce back,” said Christopher Hire, director of city data provider 2ThinkNow, which publishes the annual city ranking. “AI is one of those exciting sectors.”

Cultural capitals to bounce-back included Munich (16), Vienna (17), Amsterdam (20) and Montreal (24). Melbourne (23) lead by its top regional arts and cultural programs, and food and wine creative scene. Although Sydney (18) remained slightly ahead this year, through greater global connectivity as a business capital.

Los Angeles (6), Berlin (11) and Stockholm (13) rose sharply in the index, which judges cities on 162 indicators including technology, economic, social, smart, cultural and sustainability indicators.

Large cities continue to dominate the global economic system, overcoming Covid-19 challenges.

Mid-Eastern capitals of Dubai (14) and Doha (162) rose rapidly, with Dubai closing in on the global top-ten for the first time. Doha’s rapid rise was attributed to infrastructure built during its World Cup host role.

Spanish capital Madrid (19) beat grand rival Barcelona (26) for the first time in several years. Both rose rapidly to return to pre-Covid results. Lisbon (60) rose 98 places since Covid, on the back of favourable tech and golden-visa programs.

United States results were subdued but strong, with Boston (7) down but San Diego (37), Newark (50) and Tampa (69) up. In Canada, Toronto (15) returned to form ahead of a resurgent Vancouver (29). Quebec City rose 113 places in a highly positive result for French-speaking Canada.

In Asia, Seoul (8) challenged Singapore, while Beijing (28) remained strong, ahead of Osaka (35). Australia and New Zealand saw Brisbane (38) move upward steadily, along with Perth (63). A massive bounce-back occurred in Auckland (77) on the back of easing Covid-19 measures.

“What is fascinating is how much results vary on a city basis from national results.” Hire added. “This rewards mayors and cities that are bold and take action, rather than waiting for federal programs”.

2ThinkNow’s authoritative ranking is one of the most comprehensive of its type in the world. The algorithmic ranking enables researchers a means to measure cities innovation conditions.  Higher conditions for innovation are tied to lower unemployment and higher income for cities over time, as well as culturally more successful cities that attract talent.

This year, 2ThinkNow published separate rankings for G8, G20, ASEAN, NAFTA and regional groupings. All rankings are on the Innovation Cities Index website.

The results are used by researchers in over 180 countries each year.

In addition to valuable data on innovation, 2ThinkNow city rankings help listed cities throughout the world assess and plan their own performance over time.

The underlying data used is available for commercial purchase to compare cities.


What follows are added regional breakdowns and analysis for each region of the world. The global results are included in brackets (1) after each city name for the regional rankings.

Also following for the first time are comparative rankings for cities in countries belonging to ASEAN, EU 27, G8/G20, GCC and NAFTA blocs.

Europe innovation bounce back

European cities bounced back for innovation for the first time in years, as the United States cities receded.

Previously during the pandemic, there were only 22 European cities in the top hundred. This was part of a long-term reduction in European representation over several years. This number of cities has now in the current year risen to 37 European capitals. This was the largest ever growth in European representation in one year for innovation.

The top ten European results were London (globally, 2), Paris (4), Berlin (11), Stockholm (13), Munich (16), Vienna (17), Madrid (19), Amsterdam (20), Barcelona (26) and Milan (27). Many European capitals bounced back faster after the lifting of Covid-19 measures.

This is due to hidden benefits of the pandemic which include digitalisation and remote work. Meaning that more people are working in Europe for global companies.

Rising levels of workforce digital skills in some European cities may continue to erode the long-held United States digital advantage. The largest falls since prior results were reported in Turkish cities (dual classified in Europe and Mid-East for this ranking). Riga, capital of Latvia, fell the most places, outside of Turkish cities.


In North America, United States cities continued to largely displace Canadian cities.

In general, many US cities fell this year largely due to inflation and increased reliance on government spending for the economy. This reliance on Congress measures such as was creating bottle necks in the national economy, while the awaited funds arrive.

The top ten cities in 2023 across the United States were as follows: New York (3), Los Angeles (6), Boston (7), San Francisco - San Jose (9), Houston (10), Chicago (12), Seattle (21), Dallas-Fort Worth (22), Atlanta (25) and Miami (31). The bottom ranked United States cities this year were Fargo (358), Cheyenne (359) and Billings (360). Smaller cities continued to lose talent to larger metropolises, as employers insisted on return to the office, with many employees having left their home-towns again.

However, bucking this trend smaller California cities continued to recover since Covid-19, with Sacramento (67), Riverside (73) and Ventura (129) all climbing U.S. rankings.

Canadian cities bounced back after the removal of some pandemic restrictions. The top five Canadian cities were: Toronto (15), Montréal (24), Vancouver (29), Québec City (84) and Hamilton (109). The capital of Ottawa (122) and Calgary (125) in Alberta, regained some places, but fell a place each within Canada. However, while broadly positive, the analysts noted this performance was below the potential of Canadian cities. Proving small cities still had power, Halifax was the most improved, moving up a massive 234 places under the current trends. Proving this was a long-term trend, Halifax had improved 93 places over its 5-year average.

In Latin America, Mexico City (61) continued its long-term improvement, moving up 35 places over its 5-year average. The city had a strengthening economic system, and closer ties to the United States venture capital economy. Buenos Aires (62) placed a close second, largely on its creative merits, trailed by Brazil's sprawling São Paulo (80), Rio De Janeiro (107) and Colombian capital, Bogotá (251). The country had presented a highly visited stand at Dubai Expo 2020, showcasing its regions.

Rival Colombian green city Medellin (294), beat out a tightly-packed group of Peruvian capital Lima (316), Monterrey (326), Santiago, Chile (330) and Cordoba, Argentina (338). While globally not top this year, Medellin improved a massive six places within Latin America. This means as Latin America becomes a preferred remote working location, Medellin should continue to do well if it improves in a broad range of specific areas such as digital skills.

Mid-East, Africa and Eurasia

Unlike other city rankings, the Innovation Cities Index now has the mid-East capital of Dubai 15th in the world. This puts the desert city in top 3% of all world cities, a first for the Mid-East and Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). This was followed by a rising Tel Aviv (40), falling Istanbul (75) and Emirati rival Abu Dhabi (75).

The position of Dubai also recognizes massive infrastructure improvements by the Emirates, as well as the tremendous success of the recent Expo 2020 event. A global leader in experimental architecture, entrepreneur friendly tax regimes, quality technology and expatriate lifestyle, Dubai is categorically ahead in the Mid-East. The city now also usurps many European capitals due to the Emirati embrace of innovation.

Perennial startup and cyber-security tsar, Tel Aviv rose, despite recent political troubles. A strong tech industry saw the city climb 14 places against its five-year average. Istanbul (53) followed, falling slightly with a weakening economy. Abu Dhabi (75) has remained more or less steady, at around 4 places above its five-year average. In Saudi Arabia, the cultural city of Jeddah rose 95 places globally, since 2021.

Relative newcomer Doha (162) was the fastest moving Mid-East capital, derived from its strong World cup infrastructure performance (up 247 places, one of the largest moves in history). This included extensive airport upgrades to rival Dubai, sporting, tourism, arts and cultural infrastructure for the event. A raft of policy and physical changes to the city for the football festival saw great improvements. While some of this move was noted by analysts due to data delays during the World Cup, the transformative effects of the Cup have been extensive in terms of ranking.

Egyptian cities maintained some of their pandemic success, falling since 2021, but levelling out well ahead of 2019. The analysts outlook on Cairo (273) and Alexandria (353) remained potentially positive mid-term. The cities were classified in the Mid-East region, but Cairo would have placed first in Africa if included there.

Africa’s woes continued with few top-ranked cities. While South African cities remained top-ranked in the continent due to infrastructure, their position was not assured according to 2ThinkNow. Cape Town (282) remained ahead of Johannesburg (314), Durban (390), and Pretoria (402). Nairobi (418) remained the next best African city, with many other cities affected by currency related volatility and domestic issues. Khartoum (500) in Sudan, remained the lowest ranked city globally.

In Eurasia, despite recent conflict and ongoing military operations, a resilient Kiev (334) managed to beat Karachi (381) in Pakistan. Other Ukrainian cities placed less well than the capital.

Asia and Pacific

Across Asia, Tokyo (1), Singapore (5) and Seoul (8), unsurprisingly were the leaders in Asia region. Economic impacts of Covid-19 measures were less than expected for these tech capitals. The three Asian technology hubs came ahead of Australian capitals Sydney (18) and Melbourne (23).

In China, the Chinese capital of Beijing (28) further developed its lead above Shanghai (46), with both cities now surpassing Hong Kong (58) and Shenzhen (74). Many innovations in China have diffused throughout the country, leaving a relatively consistent scores for innovation nationally.  With the recovery from Covid-19, cities in China are expected to improve further.

Within Japan, the next three cities after Tokyo were Osaka (35), Kyoto (64) and Nagoya (81). The rising importance of Artificial Intelligence and iterative technology improvements boosted Japanese innovation potential. Culturally the Japanese had greater diversity in their arts and cultural scenes than in the past, boosting their cities performance on creative aspects of innovation.

Rising regional power India, saw sprawling Mumbai (105) still ahead of the capital Delhi (179). The city of Mumbai has more technology workers, programmers and associated I.T. professional than many European countries. Tech capital Bangalore (201) remained steady over five years, still ahead of a rapidly rising Hyderabad (292). The recovery from Covid-19 measures and new technologies, saw many Indian cities resume their slow upward trajectory of 13 places on average over the past five years.

In Southeast Asia, other key cities include Busan (108), Bangkok (145) and Kuala Lumpur (163). The worst ranked Asian cities remained Yangon (474) in Burma, and Chittagong (475) in Bangladesh. Despite various elements of a boom the benefits were not distributed in such a way to develop their innovation capability, and broader economy, according to the analysts.

Within Asia, Australian capital cities continue to “punch above their weight” in the region. With stalwart Sydney remaining ahead of Melbourne at this time.

Brisbane (38) and Perth (63) continued their slow and steady rise. Brisbane was up eight places in five years, and Perth 23 places. The continued focus on innovation by Adelaide (101) in recent years lead to an average rise of 29 places, as the city attracted creative citizens throughout the Covid-19 period. Victoria’s Geelong was the fastest growing Australian regional capital of those captured, being up 49 places over 5 years, reinforcing the success of their regional strategy over time.

In the land of the long white cloud, Auckland (77) returned to its pre Covid-19 position. Wellington (166), Christchurch (210) and Queenstown (317) were also slower to bounce back. New Zealand cities moved effectively sideways in the last five years, moving down six places.

The analysts attributed this to the failure of New Zealand federal and local policies to achieve and distribute economic benefits in practice. Most of this failure was felt outside the capital, with the three other cities ranked moving down 19 places since the Ardern government came to power.

The analysts noted though that Christchurch had one of the highest per capita rankings for city innovation anywhere. And therefore, attributed poor performance to New Zealand federal policy settings primarily.

New Global Comparative Rankings

This year, 2ThinkNow have provided a series of international standard groupings for city rankings. These were also released in parallel with the headline Innovation Cities Index.

In the ASEAN innovation rankings for 2023, the first three city places were Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

In the European Union city rankings, Paris remained on top, however Berlin and Stockholm displaced strong previous contender Munich. London outranked Paris, since leaving the E.U. via the Brexit process.

For the G8 and G20 city rankings the winners were Tokyo, London and New York, mirroring the global results. Paris and Los Angeles were runners-up among the global power houses.

In the gulf, the GCC rankings were perennial winner Dubai, then Abu Dhabi. 2022 saw Doha shoot up to third after successfully organizing the FIFA World Cup. Jeddah also moved up two places to 5th behind Sharjah. The Emirate of Ajman and Manama, Bahrain both rose in status within the gulf.

In the current NAFTA city rankings, New York, Los Angeles and Boston continued to do well. These cities nudged out a strengthening Silicon Valley on the back of AI startup sectors, despite headwinds. Mexico City shot up to 27, up 67 places in the NAFTA region. Toronto was the top ranked city from Canada, but U.S. cities continued to dominate Trudeau’s federalised Canada. 136 cities were considered from the 3 NAFTA countries.


“This year’s results show that democracy still matters to innovation in global cities, and that openness to ideas is essential. It also shows that innovators still gather in large metropolises despite a positive increase in global remote working for white collar roles” stated Christopher Hire, director of city data provider 2ThinkNow, which publishes the annual city ranking.

“The resilience of the large metropolis cities is quite unexpected,” Hire added.

-- ENDS--


Mr Christopher Hire
Director Data, 2ThinkNow
+61386780319 +16692413435 +443300270203 (email preferred)

NOTES TO EDITORS - Added Background & About 2thinknow

Cities in over 180 countries monitor the Innovation Cities Index results (based on annual registered downloads), and many major entities such as Brookings Institution, UN-Habitat, World Bank and Jones Lang LaSalle use the Index results to assess broad-based city innovation.

2thinknow supplies raw data to Fortune 500 corporations and leading management consultants to assist them with making key business decisions.

Melbourne based company 2thinknow was started in 2006 as a commercial data provider and training organization, who have modeled the innovation process based on city data. 2ThinkNow is the world’s first innovation agency established in Melbourne in 2006. The Innovation Cities Program by 2ThinkNow commenced in 2007 from 2005 research. 2thinknow develops innovative data collection and analysis techniques based on sector innovation by city location.

Notes to Editors

Australian commercial data providers 2ThinkNow produce global innovation city rankings annually from their City Benchmarking Data set of 500 cities and using complex algorithms. Rankings started in 2007, and took their modern form in 2012. Data comprising the Index is available to order by business and government clients.

Detailed data and analysis is available on each separate city, or comparison data between any set of cities. Even cities not listed can be benchmarked against the 500 cities. Details are available at

The underlying city data was updated and analysed between August 2022 and January 2023, and it is updated regularly as new and better data becomes available. In addition, the model is always revised to reflect significant political, social, economic, and trade developments. For example, Covid-19 effected results greatly in 2021. Added Excel files of city rankings are provided to media for reference, and should not be published in full except on our website. No more than 20% of the 500 city results may be published by any media organisation.


Reproducing the Index

The indexes and supporting materials are copyright and used under license by 2ThinkNow. You may reproduce the statistics and indexes in any reasonable form, graphics, or data mash-up as long as you attribute it to 2thinknow and do not modify the numbers or otherwise mislead. Print journalists can attribute in the standard fashion, or the other easy way to do this online is as follows: Source: 2ThinkNow Innovation Cities™ Index: [or the link of the Index you are referencing]

2ThinkNow do reserve all rights, including the right to ask content to be removed.

City Tables for Reproduction

Innovation Cities™ Index 2022-2023: Global 100 (from 500 Cities)

2LondonUnited KingdomNEXUS571195737
3New YorkNew YorkUnited StatesNEXUS563-3901
6Los AngelesCaliforniaUnited StatesNEXUS5520149740
7BostonMassachusettsUnited StatesNEXUS542-56167
8SeoulSeoulSouth KoreaNEXUS547-1101218
9San Francisco - San JoseCaliforniaUnited StatesNEXUS5312381557
10HoustonTexasUnited StatesNEXUS538-213525
12ChicagoIllinoisUnited StatesNEXUS529-310264
14DubaiUnited Arab EmiratesNEXUS52291527353
21SeattleWashingtonUnited StatesNEXUS5114-7171215
22Dallas-Fort WorthTexasUnited StatesNEXUS516-1614325
25AtlantaGeorgiaUnited StatesNEXUS5013-121979
29VancouverBritish ColumbiaCanadaNEXUS50136107571426
31MiamiFloridaUnited StatesNEXUS5017-1424822
32Washington DCDistrict of ColumbiaUnited StatesNEXUS4918-14231471
33PhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaUnited StatesNEXUS49352311027
37San DiegoCaliforniaUnited StatesNEXUS49458321160
40Tel AvivIsraelNEXUS489151541337
42DenverColoradoUnited StatesNEXUS4828-1434334
43PortlandOregonUnited StatesNEXUS4836-7401053
44AustinTexasUnited StatesNEXUS4821-233287
45Las VegasNevadaUnited StatesNEXUS4827-1841713
47DetroitMichiganUnited StatesNEXUS4850358337
50NewarkNew JerseyUnited StatesHUB47752570902
51BaltimoreMarylandUnited StatesHUB475545297
55PhoenixArizonaUnited StatesHUB4744-11601030
56OaklandCaliforniaUnited StatesHUB4765953944
57OrlandoFloridaUnited StatesHUB4762555972
58Hong KongHong KongChinaHUB4749-948522
59PragueCentral Bohemian RegionCzech RepublicHUB4612566771061
61Mexico CityMexico CityMexicoHUB4616110096821
62Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentinaHUB4617110996196
67SacramentoCaliforniaUnited StatesHUB4615083851133
69TampaFloridaUnited StatesHUB4614475891327
70Minneapolis-St PaulMinnesotaUnited StatesHUB4637-33571544
71PittsburghPennsylvaniaUnited StatesHUB4666-5761035
72San AntonioTexasUnited StatesHUB4648-24751155
73RiversideCaliforniaUnited StatesHUB46155821011111
75Abu DhabiUnited Arab EmiratesHUB469520798
77AucklandGreater AucklandNew ZealandHUB451598211181
80São PauloSão PauloBrazilHUB4513454901204
86ManchesterUnited KingdomHUB4520011494782
90CharlotteNorth CarolinaUnited StatesHUB4546-4483247
91NashvilleTennesseeUnited StatesHUB4538-5370890
92ClevelandOhioUnited StatesHUB4510715132284
94Santa Ana-AnaheimCaliforniaUnited StatesHUB4583-11791173
95CincinnatiOhioUnited StatesHUB4511419113275
96Kansas CityKS/MOUnited StatesHUB4547-4979614
99Fort LauderdaleFloridaUnited StatesHUB4557-4286403

Global 100 -

Global 500 -

G8 -

G20 -


EU-27 -









UK -










Added Notes for Editors

About the Indicators

There are 162 indicators selected every year from the list of 180+ available here. The list is very comprehensive and covers 31 key industry or government functions. This measures innovation across the broader city economy and society, and the breadth prevents gaming of the algorithms.

The selection of indicators usually only varies 5% year-to-year. New indicators such as Digital Skills were added during the pandemic to reflect the rise of digital workers. Each year several indicators are added and major indicators modified to capture the latest technology in practice.

Data in each of the indicators can be ordered as benchmarks.

1 Boston
2 New York
3 San Francisco
4 Toronto
5 Washington DC
6 Philadelphia
7 Montréal
8 Seattle
9 Austin
10 Minneapolis-St Paul
11 Chicago
12 Ann Arbor
13 Los Angeles
14 Calgary
15 Raleigh-Durham
16 Québec
17 Vancouver
18 Springfield
19 Pittsburgh
20 Portland
21 Dallas-Fort Worth
22 Denver
23 Baltimore
24 São Paulo
25 Edmonton
26 Buenos Aires
27 Atlanta

Notes to Business

Businesses may wish to improve their decision making by more accurate city data. 2ThinkNow assists insurance, financial, property and other companies with more accurate city level data for global decision making. Data is all available to order to compare any cities. See link.

Data Sources - City Benchmarking Data.

City benchmarking data can be used to create your own indexes or rankings. This can ordered by contacting 2ThinkNow for City Data Audits, or comparisons between any cities on 1 segment or all segments of the economy. There are 31 industry and community segments. Further information is available from 2ThinkNow ICP Team, by contacting us here or calling Melbourne +61 3 86780319. Or, you can visit the City Benchmarking Data site here for full details.

1 Boston
2 New York
3 San Francisco
4 Toronto
5 Washington DC
6 Philadelphia
7 Montréal
8 Seattle
9 Austin
10 Minneapolis-St Paul
11 Chicago
12 Ann Arbor
13 Los Angeles
14 Calgary
15 Raleigh-Durham
16 Québec
17 Vancouver
18 Springfield
19 Pittsburgh
20 Portland
21 Dallas-Fort Worth
22 Denver
23 Baltimore
24 São Paulo
25 Edmonton
26 Buenos Aires
27 Atlanta

Notes to Governments

Leaders in many cities want to understand the specific factors that impact their innovation conditions. In all capitalist or partly capitalist economies higher rates of innovation link to higher levels of GDP per person and lower unemployment.

Therefore, cities may wish to improve some areas that elevate a city’s overall or relative innovation ranking, or other innovation metrics. 2ThinkNow advises municipalities by using a total approach that examines the barriers to innovation, and opportunities to create innovation.

2ThinkNow also helps municipalities to assess changes that can improve their economy. In a remote world, companies have many choices about where to relocate, and employees can choose where to work from. Thanks to digitalisation, this is all about to go through a major shift. Cities need to be ready as operations are no longer going to follow the same rules of location.

Improvements in innovation conditions can help attract foreign direct investment, raise economic growth (GPD per capita), create jobs and develop innovation.


1 Boston
2 New York
3 San Francisco
4 Toronto
5 Washington DC
6 Philadelphia
7 Montréal
8 Seattle
9 Austin
10 Minneapolis-St Paul
11 Chicago
12 Ann Arbor
13 Los Angeles
14 Calgary
15 Raleigh-Durham
16 Québec
17 Vancouver
18 Springfield
19 Pittsburgh
20 Portland
21 Dallas-Fort Worth
22 Denver
23 Baltimore
24 São Paulo
25 Edmonton
26 Buenos Aires
27 Atlanta

Quick facts about the Index.

  • The worldwide rankings are produced annually by analysts at innovation consulting analysts, 2ThinkNow.
  • The index is not a survey, but based on data science & data analysis independently researched by 2ThinkNow analysts.
  • The index was first produced in 2007 with 22 cities from 95 profiled.
  • City Benchmarking Data, contains all 500 global cities benchmarked on 162 city indicators.
  • Approximately 50% of indicators are refreshed annually or more frequently.
  • All cities scores are weighted against 10-50 current change trends - that emerge from the data.
  • Here's the 2022-2023 Summary of 12 Current trends on Substack - paid newsletter subscribers get the full list
Year-on-Year-Change top Five Percent 2THINKNOW City Rankings 2022-2023

Year-on-Year-Change top Five Percent 2THINKNOW City Rankings 2022-2023

Christopher Hire, Director, Presenting Innovation Cities Index at Calile Hotel

Christopher Hire, Director, Presenting Innovation Cities Index at Calile Hotel

Annual Disclaimer

The Innovation Cities Indexes (the “Indexes”) are for information purposes only and are intended for as a general purpose ranking measuring the relative importance of cities to the innovation economy. Practise in this area is continually changing and emerging, so the methodologies and processes change from year to year, and the availability of data changes from city to city. While the Indexes have been prepared based upon the best available information, they are provided on an “as-is” basis, and 2thinknow accepts no responsibility/liability for the validity/accuracy (or otherwise) of the resources/data used to compile the Indexes. In no event will 2thinknow be liable to for any decision made or action taken in reliance of the results obtained through the use of, or the information and/or data contained in or provided by, the Indexes.

2ThinkNow and its representatives make no representations or warranties with respect to the Indexes, and disclaim all express, implied and statutory warranties of any kind, including, but not limited to, representations and implied warranties of quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose. Obviously, we do our best to make it awesome, as our flagship ranking!

Note: Those seeking tailored data of comparative city performance to answer research questions should purchase City Benchmarking Data from 2ThinkNow, and/or create scorecards or comparative analysis tailored to their specific circumstances.

Images credit - Brad Kay for Shots of Christopher Hire, Director
Unsplash for all general stock photos (see image file for name details),
2ThinkNow for all charts/graphs