Innovation Cities Index 2011 Launched

The leading global city innovation classification and rankings, by 2thinknow.

2011 City Results

The 5th Annual Innovation Cities Index was released today by 2thinknow, classifying city innovation globally. The release includes 4 regional and 2 global indexes for 331 benchmark cities, across 80+ countries.


View short Media Release + Read the 2011 FAQ

Please reproduce the index results in articles, blogs and media as per license terms.

Order Report

The October edition Innovation Cities Analysis Report on the Index, city trends and building urban innovation economies, is available to order. > New Edition > Report Site > Order!


For those interested in one city’s performance, data and analyst briefing services are now bundled available via > null.

Media Release

This is an extended Media Release, please use as appropriate.

DATE: Tuesday, 18TH October 2011.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Boston came first again in a field of 331 cities in the Innovation Cities Global Index. This year’s top cities were rounded out by San Francisco Bay Area, Paris, New York and Vienna, as the 5th annual index was released today by analysts from innovation agency 2thinknow. 2thinknow is based in Melbourne, Australia.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data identified innovation as the key driver of economic recovery from previous recessions and downturns for nations, and 2thinknow’s annual index extends this to cities.

Melbourne came tops over an improved Sydney this year for innovation, in the 5th Annual Innovation Cities Asia Index.  Tokyo and Shanghai rounded out the top five cities, in the index released today by analysts from innovation agency 2thinknow.

The Innovation Cities Asia Index was one of four regional and two global indexes released in Melbourne, today.

European cities continued to place well globally, often indicating a separation between city and national performance.

Comparing European cities in the global indexes, Germany’s Munich continued climbing up to 7th place globally from 15th. Amid struggling UK cities London improved to 11th from 14th, as Manchester (32nd) rose to Nexus status for the first time. In Europe, Italian and Spanish cities fell further outside the top rankings, with Barcelona (19), Milan (16), Madrid (52) and Torino (80) ranked counter to poor national trends. Other top tier European Nexus cities listed included Amsterdam (6), Lyon (8), Copenhagen (9), Frankfurt (12), Hamburg (13) and Berlin (14).

According to 2thinknow Executive Director, Christopher Hire, “Key cities will perform out of pattern with nations, as nations enter or exit economic malaise, or multi-speed economies.”

In 2011, 331 benchmarked cities were scored on 162 indicators by 2thinknow based on their facility to generate product, process, service and other innovation types across an urban economy. Results are classified into five bands of performance including top-tier Nexus and Hub cities, followed by globally competitive Node cities.

According to 2thinknow, Executive Director, Christopher Hire, the “Innovation Cities Global Index measures cities as innovation economies. We collect and assess data for transport, universities, arts, design, sustainability, economics, start-up facilities, labour, technology and other indicators to measure the opportunity cities offer their citizens.”

The analysts noted that city performance can be faster to turn around than overall national performance. All indexes are available on

The analysts first named Boston as the second-top global innovation destination in 2007. In 2011, the analysts stated that Boston’s dominant institutions Harvard and MIT, coupled with a strengthening start-up and arts in global networks kept the city number one overall globally across multiple economic segments in the turbulent national economic cycle. In Canada, Nexus city Toronto moved up two places to 10th globally. Montreal joined Seattle and Los Angeles as North American Nexus cities for the first time.

The top 10% of 331 cities were classified as Nexus cities by the analysts. Nexus cities were the analysts best general destinations for innovation, followed by the next 73 Hub cities named as challengers in many sectors of the city economy. The balance of cities were classified as Node cities or in two lower performance bands. According to the analyst’s classification, Node cities are globally competitive for innovation.

In 2011 the Index uniquely foresees stronger U.S. innovation performance over 2 to 5 years, based on mid-size city businesses seeking innovation opportunities in global cities. 2thinknow noted that across the USA, most major U.S. cities were likely to be globally competitive Node or above, by meeting mid-level benchmarks for innovation. The analysts identified Human Infrastructure and Cultural Asset investment as key to stronger U.S. performance.

Hong Kong climbed to 15th globally and first Nexus in Asia, ahead of Australia’s city economies represented by Melbourne and Sydney, at 17th and 20th respectively. A weakened Tokyo moved temporarily down to 22nd place ahead of a steady Shanghai (24) among a record 24% Asian Nexus cities, also including Seoul. China’s economic performance to date was reflected by more Chinese cities than ever in the global Index, and the entry of cities like Wuhan and Chengdu for the first time.

Global Hub cities rising in the analyst rankings this year included Bordeaux, Vancouver, Budapest, Tel Aviv, Orlando and Shenzhen. Well-known cities the analysts discounted significantly this year included St Petersburg, Moscow and Buenos Aires (replaced in South America by São Paulo). Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod technology city and Rostov-na-Donu entered the Index for the first time, as Mumbai became India’s first Hub city. Cape Town this year became the first African Hub city. Adelaide in Australia also became an Asian Hub based on new investment activity.

According to 2thinknow, Executive Director, Christopher Hire, the “Innovation Cities Global Index measures cities as innovation economies. This goes beyond technology or patents alone. 2thinknow analysts also collect data on assess transport, universities, arts, design, sustainability, economics, start-up facilities, labor as well as other factors to measure the opportunities cities offer their citizens. We aim to measure cities economic opportunity not nations.”

In 2011 the 331 cities benchmarked for innovation, up from 289 cities in 2010 and compared with 256 cities in 2009. The top 125 cities were ranked by the analysts based on 21 current global trends, listed in the accompanying Innovation Cities Analysis report. The indicators framework, models and global analysis of trend impact were also outlined in the report. 2thinknow launched the index in 2007 and expanded the index in 2009 to 289 cities.

Each year, the global index and top rankings are released with four regional indexes, that classify and then rank the top cities for North & South America, Europe, Asia and Emerging regions. In 2007 the analysts predicted the Global Financial Crisis as a “September (2008) shock event”, and Indexes predicted London’s fall and foresaw counter-cyclical strong performance of German and French cities overall.

Cities move in the Index over 2 or 3 year periods, and many city classifications have been relatively stable year on year since 2009.





Christopher Hire
Executive Director
2thinknow ICP
TIME: Melbourne, Australia (AEST)

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Cities Data

Separately, City Benchmarking Data from the 2thinknow Index is city-level available to order for any 331 benchmark cities (from all regions) for all 162 indicators, or any mix of cities and indicators for city data projects. > Data Site

For single cities this data is bundled with annual reports, at a discount via top-tier subscriptions via null.