Media Release: Can we have better cities? Melbourne says yes, Sydney says maybe


  • Melbourne has world-class Cultural Assets, as good as or better than European cities, despite infrastructure issues
  • U.K. and France interested in how cities can achieve “Australian economic miracle”
  • Rely on multiple industry and community sectors to achieve cosmopolitan cities

2thinknow -- Melbourne is the Australian city North Americans and Europeans could learn the most from, that’s the conclusion of a new global city report launched in Melbourne today.

A new concept in urban research, the Innovation Cities Analysis Report, was launched in Melbourne today by Australian innovation agency 2thinknow with a website designed to take Melbourne’s uniquely cosmopolitan and open view of cities to the world.

The report is significant because it provides new answers to how a city can improve economic and social performance in the face of economic uncertainty and potential job losses, by embracing a cosmopolitan approach to city planning.

In the global city report, Melbourne’s cultural assets and government arts strategy featured withh 32 mentions. These included praise for local architectural practices, laneway culture, major events, visitor information brochures, AFL and the sports industry.

Melbourne’s reputation as the “casual food capital” of the world was singled out, with the food quality, dining, diversity and affordability sections of the report using case studies from Melbourne. This included laneway cafes, bars and the Queen Victoria Market.

Answers in the report centre on a balanced multi-sector approach to cities across 3 factors: cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets.

The unique basis of the report is an ongoing benchmarking study of over 256 cities, on 162 performance indicators started in 2005.

The largest city benchmarking program ever undertaken, the program measures cities in terms of actual performance as experience by citizens, not statistics. The program does this by the design of performance indicators, then using the internet and global connections in new ways to monitor city performance.

Sydney received 17 mentions. Regional Victoria was praised along with Adelaide’s cultural assets of food and wine. However, infrastructure gaps in Australia were highlighted relative to Asia and Europe.

Editions of the report and benchmarking data have been purchased by city and state governments and business from Australia to New Zealand to United States, Canada, and Europe.

More details are available about the Innovation Cities Analysis Report on the website:


The report concludes that Melbourne’s mix of cultural factors in cities contribute to a balanced approach to urban factors. This balance was what made Melbourne a destination for industry innovation in up to 31 industry and community segments.

The report takes a purely commercial approach to innovation, looking at potential job-creating industries and social innovation in areas that impact citizen satisfaction: such as transport or the environment.

Other studies on innovation in city that deal with patents or published research.

This championing of cosmopolitan Melbourne, follows recent media reports in global newspapers that nations such as France and U.K. were examining more closely how to emulate Australia’s economy and major cities.

The global city report places major Australian cities favourably within a global context, and concludes that they are out-innovating many United States cities in terms of urban planning and development of diverse cities.

Sydney also received 17 mentions, for cultural assets such an active nightlife, cultural links to Asia, private art galleries, casual food options, environmentally-friendly buildings such as Lend Lease’s The Bond and cinemas such as the Orpheum in Cremorne.

However, infrastructure was a strong negative in Sydney, with the analysts drawing attention to poor airport connections, disorganized urban planning, generally high prices and, like Melbourne, globally high property prices.


South Australia’s food and wine around Adelaide received 3 mentions in the report, with a profile of the Central Market and the wine cluster in surrounding areas.

Regional cities, in regional Victoria, received a mention, with Ballarat’s art gallery and Clunes’ Book town promoted within the global city report as positive examples for regional areas across the world to emulate.

On the West Coast, Perth received a single mention, as did the Canberra. Neighbouring New Zealand cities received 6 mentions between them in the current edition, with special attention being drawn to a global quality film industry in Wellington.


In terms of Federal Government programs, Australia’s fibre-optic National Broadband network was held up as an example of positive government intervention in the economy, and bringing Australia in line with Asian internet speeds.

In terms of the weaknesses of Australian cities, infrastructure gaps in logistics bottlenecks, rail freight, ports and public transport were highlighted. The report proposes greater public transport, more innovative car sharing schemes and less reliance on the automobile. Property affordability was highlighted, using the measure of multiple of salaries as a key concern relative to all other developed nations.

In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong were highlighted, along with mainland Chinese and Japanese cities for improving infrastructure, including fast-rail. The lack of a fast-rail corridor, with redundancy, between Brisbane-Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne and regional areas was singled out as a missed economic opportunity.


The Innovation Cities Analysis Report integrates economics, markets and job creation concepts into to social urban planning ideas championed by Jane Jacobs, Richard Florida and others.

The report does this via the Innovation Cities Framework, a commercial model for measuring, comparing and planning for innovation through measuring city performance indicators, similar to the KPIs used in business.

The report is commercially available to city governments, business, community associations and media globally. More details are available about the Innovation Cities Analysis Report on the website:


Globally the report drew on many European examples such as Copenhagen’s traffic scheme, fast-rail projects in Germany, Japan and France, universities such as those in and near Boston, and the European bicycle rental schemes, newly implemented in Melbourne.

Boston, MA was the most mentioned U.S. city, with 26 mentions, and had previously been ranked #1 in the world for innovation, in the Innovation Cities Index 2009.

San Francisco and New York were frequently mentioned for their pro-business, pro-start-up approach, technology clusters and environmental initiatives.  Although the report warned many U.S. cities were falling behind and in danger of becoming backslider cities – cities that focused on minor social issues, at the expense of solving fundamental urban planning and design principles.

Overall, Australian cities were mentioned favourably within a global context.


The analysis report of urban research is part of the Innovation Cities Program, a program of resources for city government and business to create local innovation in urban areas.

The program includes a 162 indicator benchmarking data set of 256 global cities. Also in the program, are the Innovation Cities Index city rankings based around potential of cities to respond to current economic and social challenges.

The Index city rankings for 2010 are scheduled to be released in early August, with a new site launched prior to the city rankings launch. Index rankings provide a base of 162 cultural, economic, political and social indicators to ranking cities, rather than the base of 39 indicators used for liveability by Mercer’s annual rankings.

2thinknow’s Innovation Cities Program is mentioned in the City of Melbourne’s liveability and Benchmarking Programs, and is quoted on the Future Melbourne website. The library at Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet have been customers of the report since the early editions, along with libraries, city governments worldwide, trade boards, media organizations and corporate executives.

ABOUT 2thinknow

2thinknow is an innovation agency based in Melbourne, Australia, established as a re-branding in 2006, and the company established 1999 has provided data analysis and reporting services to Federal and State government and ASX-listed Australian corporations.



Christopher Hire
Executive Director
+61 3 86780319


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