MEDIA RELEASE: First Asian City Wins 11th Annual Innovation Cities™ Index City Rankings from 500 cities

Robot Capital Tokyo Wins 11th Annual City Rankings of 500 Cities Ahead of London


EMBARGOED UNTIL THURSDAY 5:11 PM EDT (New York) / THURSDAY 20:11 PM CET (Paris) / FRIDAY 4:11 AM AEST (Melbourne)

2thinknow // MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Tokyo was the first Asian city named the world’s most innovative city in 2018 of 500 cities in the 11th annual Innovation Cities Index released by data innovation agency 2thinknow in Melbourne today.

The top five in the city ranking included previous winners London (won 2015, 2017), Silicon Valley (San Francisco-San Jose) and New York, followed by Los Angeles. Singapore rose one place behind previous early double winner Boston, Toronto, Paris and Sydney rounding out the global top ten.

Sydney was also the first Australian city in the top ten and marked the first time three cities in the top ten had been located in the Asia region.

According to the analysts Tokyo's gradual climb was also based off strong baseline performance average across the broad-base of 162 city indicators used to score the cities, and a focus on applied technology as a unique solution to current urban opportunities and challenges.

Behind the rankings is the analysis that cities with higher rates of innovation will experience higher economic output and be perceived as the best destinations to invest in commercial product, service or social innovation without a specific industry focus.

“What really surprised us this year, was the resurgence of Tokyo, moving up to eclipse rival cities like Boston. They showed clear direction by embracing smart technology change to lead innovation, and leadership in what we have identified as the twin long-term globe shaking trends of robotics and 3D manufacturing.” 2thinknow’s Director Data, Christopher Hire stated.

“While it was close between London and Tokyo, support of new technologies gave it to Tokyo based on 2018 trends, although this could change in 2019.”

The Innovation Cities Index has been published annually since 2007 by commercial data provider 2thinknow to measure each cities pre-conditions for innovation using 162 indicators is based on commercial data points sold to corporations.


The city ranking classified five hundred cities into four bands for innovation based on trend-adjusted scores derived from 162 indicators annually benchmarked and reduced to three factor scores for measuring conditions conducive to creating a process of innovation in a city.

The top band was ‘Nexus’ cities of which there were 52 cities (approximately top 10%). There were 120 cities in the next ‘Hub’ category (about 25%). 256 cities (or about 50% of cities considered) were in the next globally competitive ‘Node’ category.

According to the research model ‘Nexus’ cities remain the optimal locations for innovation of a general nature, and Hub cities remain optimal for innovation in a few key industry segments.

After the classification process, the cities are ranked by the analysts.


In North America, there were 23 Nexus cities compared with 19 last year, indicated renewed United States and Canadian cities dominance of innovation. Cities that improved dramatically in the ranking included Chicago (11), Dallas-Fort Worth (13), Seattle (15), Houston (17), Austin (29), Denver (31) and Philadelphia (32) due to favorable trends and improved economic development.

In Europe there were 19 Nexus cities, reversed from 24 cities last year due to declined economic conditions providing a slower market rate of adoption of innovations according to the analysts. There were fewer rising cities in Europe, but some included Berlin (13), Oslo (36) and Rome (47).

Last year’s high-ranked European capitals that fell but retained high positions Amsterdam (18), Vienna (19), Munich (21), Barcelona (30), Madrid (38), Copenhagen (39) and Milan (40). This was due to less favorable trends and distractions from a local policy focus on economic development and innovation during the period, according to the analysts.

As in 2017, nine of the top Nexus cities remained in Asia, including Seoul (12), Hong Kong (27), Shanghai (35) now topping Beijing (37) and Osaka (45).

Dubai (33) remained the only Emerging Nexus city, although Tel Aviv remain highly ranked (44) competitor in the Mid-East region, with the next regional city being Abu Dhabi (69), trailed by Kuwait City (268) and Doha (294).

Africa’s top innovator remained Cape Town (265) and Johannesburg (380) although both cities declined due to the economic implications of recent policies.



In the United States, Los Angeles and a series of Bay Area satellite cities such as San Diego (23), Portland (41), Oakland (up 12 places to 43), Sacramento (up 21 places to 59) and Santa-Ana-Anaheim (up 37 places) reinforced their destination attractiveness to tech companies priced out of the San Francisco Bay Area in the analysis.

Oakland was noted as especially significant, having capitalized on the success of being in the Bay Area while having a distinct city program and overcome past economic issues.


“This year innovation is likely to come from large cities as usual, but we found on a population-adjusted basis many small cities are punching above their weight. It’s the year of big cities with physical networks and small cities with digital networks, going global,” Hire added.

North American cities were represented in the top hundred cities with 37 cities in the United States, 5 in Canada and Mexico City (73) being the new winner in Latin America, replacing Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. This left 43 cities within the top 100 in the NAFTA Zone.

Larger Canadian cities continued their top rankings with few changes including Montréal (22), Vancouver (25) and Québec City (58) due to higher costs.

Lower business costs and improved innovation policies lead Ottawa (126), Halifax (202) and Hamilton (205) to achieve above average positions relative to their smaller populations with potential to improve in future years.

Outside the top hundred innovation efforts by cities like Detroit’s (80) neighboring small city Ann Arbor (up 51 places to 114) and Des Moines in Iowa (up 26 places) could be seen in their movements. The analysts noted the start-up and tech scenes appearing in American cities as providing “strong grass roots of opportunity positivity in the U.S. economy”.

A lot of this was noted as due to the movement of new product ideas “as a service” e.g. SAAS (Software as A Service), FAAS (Fashion as A Service) or MAAS (Mobility as A Service) enabling new ways of monetizing undervalued assets in the digital economy.


The top 10 Latin American cities moved up an average of 11 places each, showing that Latin American capitals were challenging and growing distinct identities from cities of the United States. The fastest movers were Bogota (up 46 places) and Santiago (up 23 places) off improved start-up and more stable business policies.



Because the Index factored in economic performance, Europe scored fewer cities than usual with 35 in the top hundred but with improved performance by Stockholm (28), Oslo (36), recovering Athens (62) and Lisbon (rising 17 places to 90).

Strong mobility solutions (such as an embedded fast rail network) were noted as a key performance differentiator enabling European cities to maintain a strong performance across the data-set. Sustainability performance also played a big part in European cities strong performance when smaller populations are accounted for.

The number of cities reduced further to 27 for Continental Europe, once the four Brexit cities of London, Manchester (34, up 11 places), Edinburgh (89) and Glasgow (95) and four other non-continental cities are excluded – Tel Aviv (44), Istanbul (53), Moscow (48) and Saint Petersburg (93).

Outside the top 100 often-overlooked Liverpool (up 22 places to 129) and Leeds (up 13 places to 150) proved that London’s recent last few years of innovation success had now begun transferring to other cities in the United Kingdom.

The European Union had 25% of the cities in the top hundred once Helsinki and Zürich are excluded (not European Union members).



The total number of top hundred cities in Asia fell by one to 18 from 19, due to Perth (now 105) and Guangzhou (113) being jumped by newcomer Wellington (100).

Overall top 100 cities in Asia region improved by an average of three places, and five places in the top 35% of all cities. Analysts attributed to a ‘spike’ factor of wealth concentration in Asian society, reflecting a greater concentration of innovation to fewer locations in Asia, compared with the greater distribution more equitably within European society. In practice, this means location matters more in starting new ideas in Asia than Europe or the United States.

Beyond Nexus cities, other key Hub cities in Asia region included Brisbane (54), Shenzhen (55), Taipei (60), Kyoto (64), Busan (68) and Kuala Lumpur (99).

In Australia, more overlooked regional and smaller capital cities marched upwards such as Canberra (152), Adelaide (163), Gold Coast (198), Wollongong (262, up 38 places), Hobart (264, up 20 places) and Newcastle (up 27 places to 309) because of broadband access to global services.

The top Indian cities for innovation were Mumbai (92) and Bangalore (139), with Delhi at (199).


“Our index is often a lead index – in 2009, we predicted the resilience of German cities, events in Ukraine, and the GFC, as we last year correctly predicting the ongoing recovery of Athens based on the Index. Cities that do well in our index can go on to be recognized in other indexes. This year we are predicting that Thessaloniki will continue to recover rapidly having risen 71 places.”

“We also predict that French cities have hit bottom based on their current scores and should rebound in 18-24 months. German cities have declined this year but may improve in 2-3 years.”

“If the United States avoids any damaging conflicts, U.S. cities should continue to grow, and an economic turnaround in Europe is already under way. Asian cities will continue to be less numerically represented but power will be concentrated into a few key Asian centers,” Hire ended.


All indexes are published on along with further resources. All data in the Index can be purchased. The publisher and creator of the city ranking is 2thinknow, a private business established in Melbourne in 2006 from research started in Vienna in 2005.

Media Release


Christopher Hire
Director Data, Founder, 2thinknow
Melbourne +61386780319 California +16692413435 Vienna +43720775886 (Email for Report excerpt and Excel rankings)


Background & About 2thinknow

Over 75% of cities, with a population of over one million residents monitor the Innovation Cities Index results, and many major entities such as Samsung, PWC, Brookings Institution, UN-Habitat 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.

2thinknow delivers City Benchmarking Data, analyst reports, the Innovation Course and other innovation services to city, business and government clients. See








Supporting Analysis Report: -- About & pre-order 2018 Report (packaged with 2017 report used to compile Index basis) here.


Added Notes for Editors

Updated Index

2thinknow’s City Benchmarking Data set contains over 2000 cities, of which 500 are currently selected for full benchmarking. In 2011, the number of cities appearing in the yearly published scores and rankings was 331, up from 289 cities in 2010. The new inclusions reflected previously omitted destinations in the Emerging, Asian and Americas regions. There is a base level of development, population and services required to appear in the Index.

The Innovation Cities™ Index purpose is to measure the development of innovation economies globally.

The index measures the 3 factor preconditions for innovation -- Cultural Assets, Human Infrastructure and Networked Markets.

To make it easy to read the indexes 2thinknow publish a global top 100, global full, and 4 regional indexes: Americas, Asia, Europe and Emerging.

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 is 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.
  • Data is updated between August and early next year (until finished), with more than 50% of indicators being refreshed in this period.
  • Explanation of the 162 city indicators, and how cities can become innovation economies are contained in the Innovation Cities Analysis Report, from 2thinknow.
  • All cities scores are weighted against 30 current change trends (detailed and available in the report).

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™ Program: [or the link of the page you are referencing] 2thinknow do reserve all rights, including the right to ask content to be removed.

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

City Ranking Tables / Lists for Reproduction

Links to the cities indexes & national statistics

Attribute to: “INNOVATION CITIES INDEX  BY 2thinknow” URL:

All 2018 Indexes: Top 100GlobalAmericas | EuropeAsiaEmerging | National & Area Rankings > Download Excel + Newsletter

Want to reproduce this list? You Can. First, see 'Reproducing this list' below.

While the Innovation Cities™ Index is free, detailed data is always available for purchase.

RankChangeCity NameCountryStateRegionSubregionClassificationIndex ScoreCityID
12TokyoJapanTokyoASIAJAPAN1 NEXUS561361
2-1LondonUnited KingdomEUROPEUK1 NEXUS56737
31San Francisco - San JoseUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS551557
4-2New YorkUnited StatesNew YorkAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS55901
51Los AngelesUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS55740
61SingaporeSingaporeSingaporeASIAASIA PAC1 NEXUS541240
7-2BostonUnited StatesMassachusettsAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS53167
80TorontoCanadaOntarioAMERICASCANADA1 NEXUS531370
90ParisFranceIle-de-FranceEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS531002
104SydneyAustraliaNSWASIAANZ1 NEXUS531300
119ChicagoUnited StatesIllinoisAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS53264
12-1SeoulSouth KoreaSeoulASIAASIA PAC1 NEXUS521218
133Dallas-Fort WorthUnited StatesTexasAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS52325
143BerlinGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS51142
156SeattleUnited StatesWashingtonAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS511215
169MelbourneAustraliaVICASIAANZ1 NEXUS51811
175HoustonUnited StatesTexasAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS51525
18-6AmsterdamNetherlandsEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS5043
19-9ViennaAustriaViennaEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS491439
20-2AtlantaUnited StatesGeorgiaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS4979
21-6MunichGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS49863
22-3MontrealCanadaQuebecAMERICASCANADA1 NEXUS49853
2313San DiegoUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS491160
243Washington DCUnited StatesDistrict of ColumbiaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS491471
25-1VancouverCanadaBritish ColumbiaAMERICASCANADA1 NEXUS491426
260MiamiUnited StatesFloridaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS48822
278Hong KongChinaHong KongASIACHINA1 NEXUS48522
283StockholmSwedenEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS481279
2918AustinUnited StatesTexasAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS4887
30-17BarcelonaSpainEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS48105
3111DenverUnited StatesColoradoAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS46334
322PhiladelphiaUnited StatesPennsylvaniaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS481027
33-5DubaiUnited Arab EmiratesEMERGINGMID-EAST1 NEXUS47353
3411ManchesterUnited KingdomEUROPEUK1 NEXUS47782
35-3ShanghaiChinaShanghaiASIACHINA1 NEXUS471227
37-7BeijingChinaBeijingASIACHINA1 NEXUS47125
38-15MadridSpainEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS47766
39-6CopenhagenDenmarkEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS46302
40-11MilanItalyEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS46825
417PortlandUnited StatesOregonAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS461053
42-2HamburgGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS46483
4312OaklandUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS46944
44-7Tel AvivIsraelEUROPEMID-EAST1 NEXUS451337
455OsakaJapanOsaka (excludes Kobe)ASIAJAPAN1 NEXUS452112
460HelsinkiFinlandEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS45497
48-5MoscowRussiaMoscowEUROPERUSSIA1 NEXUS45858
490DublinIrelandEUROPEEURO CONT1 NEXUS45354
5011OrlandoUnited StatesFloridaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS45972
5115Las VegasUnited StatesNevadaAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS45713
5213BaltimoreUnited StatesMarylandAMERICASUSA1 NEXUS4597
5328IstanbulTurkeyEUROPEMID-EAST2 HUB44564
545BrisbaneAustraliaQLDASIAANZ2 HUB44186
5514ShenzhenChinaGuangdongASIACHINA2 HUB441230
56-15FrankfurtGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB44409
57-19StuttgartGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB441285
58-1QuebecCanadaQuebecAMERICASCANADA2 HUB441079
5921SacramentoUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA2 HUB441133
6012TaipeiTaiwanTaiwanASIACHINA2 HUB441313
616Minneapolis-St PaulUnited StatesMinnesotaAMERICASUSA2 HUB441544
6212AthensGreeceEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB4478
63-10PragueCzech RepublicCentral Bohemian RegionEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB441061
646KyotoJapanKyotoASIAJAPAN2 HUB44700
65-3DusseldorfGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB44363
66-22LyonFranceRhone-AlpesEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB44757
6737Santa Ana-AnaheimUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA2 HUB441173
6810BusanSouth KoreaASIAASIA PAC2 HUB431553
69-1Abu DhabiUnited Arab EmiratesEMERGINGMID-EAST2 HUB438
70-16LeipzigGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB43718
7128TampaUnited StatesFloridaAMERICASUSA2 HUB431327
72-16CologneGermanyEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB43290
7311Mexico CityMexicoMexico CityAMERICASLATIN AMERICA2 HUB43821
74-3BudapestHungaryEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB43194
7525PittsburghUnited StatesPennsylvaniaAMERICASUSA2 HUB431035
76-12BrusselsBelgiumBrusselsEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB43190
77-19Raleigh-DurhamUnited StatesNorth CarolinaAMERICASUSA2 HUB431085
788Kansas CityUnited StatesKS/MOAMERICASUSA2 HUB43614
79-3Sao PauloBrazilSao PauloAMERICASLATIN AMERICA2 HUB431204
80-3DetroitUnited StatesMichiganAMERICASUSA2 HUB43337
81-18PhoenixUnited StatesArizonaAMERICASUSA2 HUB431030
82-22Buenos AiresArgentinaBuenos AiresAMERICASLATIN AMERICA2 HUB43196
832Salt Lake CityUnited StatesUtahAMERICASUSA2 HUB431149
8438NashvilleUnited StatesTennesseeAMERICASUSA2 HUB43890
85-33ZurichSwitzerlandEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB431526
86-3CalgaryCanadaAlbertaAMERICASCANADA2 HUB43210
8720NewarkUnited StatesNew JerseyAMERICASUSA2 HUB43902
8810RiversideUnited StatesCaliforniaAMERICASUSA2 HUB431111
89-2EdinburghUnited KingdomEUROPEUK2 HUB42368
90-17LisbonPortugalEUROPEEURO CONT2 HUB42730
915ProvidenceUnited StatesRhode IslandAMERICASUSA2 HUB421067
92-2MumbaiIndiaMaharashtraASIAINDIA2 HUB42862
93-18St PetersburgRussiaSt PetersburgEUROPERUSSIA2 HUB421271
94-3AlbuquerqueUnited StatesNew MexicoAMERICASUSA2 HUB4227
95-2GlasgowUnited KingdomEUROPEUK2 HUB42446
96-7AucklandNew ZealandGreater AucklandASIAANZ2 HUB4281
9729MemphisUnited StatesTennesseeAMERICASUSA2 HUB42813
983RichmondUnited StatesVirginiaAMERICASUSA2 HUB421105
99-7Kuala LumpurMalaysiaKuala LumpurASIAASIA PAC2 HUB42689
1008WellingtonNew ZealandWellingtonASIAANZ2 HUB421473

You should know (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.