Top 10 innovative cities: Boston leads world in 2010; Paris, Amsterdam follow

Boston is the "top city of the global innovation economy," according to a new study. Rounding out the global top five: Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna and New York.

None other than Boston is the "top city of the global innovation economy" in 2010, according to a new study.

In its latest index, Australian analyst firm 2thinknow says Beantown leads the world in relative performance in the global innovation economy. That means the city's actions to facilitate the growth of new industries are opening up a better economic opportunity for talent.

The index, which was published on Wednesday and first introduced in 2007, looks at innovation at the individual (creative), business (startups) and city levels.

Rounding out the global top three? Paris and Amsterdam.

Here's a look at the firm's Top 30 around the world:

  1. Boston (USA)
  2. Paris (France)
  3. Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  4. Vienna (Austria)
  5. New York (USA)
  6. Frankfurt (Germany)
  7. San Francisco (USA)
  8. Copenhagen (Denmark)
  9. Lyon (France)
  10. Hamburg (Germany)
  11. Berlin (Germany)
  12. Toronto (Canada)
  13. Stuttgart (Germany)
  14. London (UK)
  15. Munich (Germany)
  16. Milan (Italy)
  17. Stockholm (Sweden)
  18. Hong Kong (China)
  19. Melbourne (Australia)
  20. Tokyo (Japan)
  21. Rome (Italy)
  22. Kyoto (Japan)
  23. Washington, D.C. (USA)
  24. Shanghai (China)
  25. Düsseldorf (Germany)
  26. Barcelona (Spain)
  27. Seoul (South Korea)
  28. Sydney (Australia)
  29. Prague (Czech Republic)
  30. Philadelphia (USA)

The top 100 cities were culled from 289 cities in total. They were classified in five groupings:

  • Nexus cities (65): dominate the globally innovation economy across many sectors.
  • Hub cities (30): global innovation economy across some sectors.
  • Node cities (162): regional industry influence on innovation. (e.g. Adelaide, for its wine industry)
  • Influencer cities (20): regional industry influence on innovation, with some negatives.
  • Upstart cities (5): future potential for innovation. (e.g. Minsk, Tirana, Montevideo)

The cities were scored based on 31 common industry and community segments weighted against global trends. A three-factor score (out of 10) measured the cultural assets, human infrastructure and networked markets of a city's innovation economy. The analysts also incorporated their assessment of market confidence in the cities.

For example, Boston came out on top because it scored 29 out of 30 across all three factors: 9 for cultural assets, 10 for human infrastructure, and 10 for networked markets. Similarly, Paris had 29 (10, 9, 10), Amsterdam had 28 (9, 9, 10) and Vienna had 28 (10, 10, 8).

The "Nexus City" designation requires an index score of 25 or more.

The most-improved cities were Hong Kong, Shanghai and Munich, according to the firm.

So how did we do in the Americas? Here's a look at the top 15 cities:

  1. Boston (Mass.)
  2. New York (N.Y.)
  3. San Francisco (Calif.)
  4. Toronto (Ontario, Canada)
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Philadelphia (Penn.)
  7. Montréal (Quebec, Canada)
  8. Seattle (Wash.)
  9. Austin (Texas)
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minn.)
  11. Chicago (Ill.)
  12. Ann Arbor (Mich.)
  13. Los Angeles (Calif.)
  14. Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
  15. Raleigh-Durham (N.C.)

The Americas region had a showing of 27 cities in the global top 100: 19 in the U.S., six in Canada and two (Buenos Aires and São Paulo) in South America.

Below, a regional ranking roundup.

Top 20 innovation cities in Asia:

  1. Hong Kong (China)
  2. Melbourne (Australia)
  3. Tokyo (Japan)
  4. Kyoto (Japan)
  5. Shanghai (China)
  6. Seoul (South Korea)
  7. Sydney (Australia)
  8. Singapore (Singapore)
  9. Wellington (New Zealand)
  10. Auckland (New Zealand)
  11. Fukuoka (Japan)
  12. Beijing (China)
  13. Kobe (Japan)
  14. Osaka (Japan)
  15. Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)
  16. Mumbai (India)
  17. Adelaide (Australia)
  18. Bangalore (India)
  19. Delhi (India)
  20. Shenzhen (China)

Top 15 innovation cities in Europe:

  1. Paris (France)
  2. Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  3. Vienna (Austria)
  4. Frankfurt (Germany)
  5. Copenhagen (Denmark)
  6. Lyon (France)
  7. Hamburg (Germany)
  8. Berlin (Germany)
  9. Stuttgart (Germany)
  10. London (UK)
  11. Munich (Germany)
  12. Milan (Italy)
  13. Stockholm (Sweden)
  14. Rome (Italy)
  15. Düsseldorf (Germany)

Top 12 innovation cities in "emerging" areas (mostly Middle East and Africa):

  1. Abu Dhabi (UAE)
  2. Dubai (UAE)
  3. Capetown (South Africa)
  4. Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)
  5. Casablanca (Morocco)
  6. Doha (Qatar)
  7. Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)
  8. Kuwait City (Kuwait)
  9. Kiev (Ukraine)
  10. Manama (Bahrain)
  11. Johannesburg (South Africa)
  12. Minsk (Belarus)

Finally, a few insights from the report. First, European cities dominate the list thanks to the "common market" benefits of being in the European Union.

Second, the U.S. is in danger of "back sliding" without innovation reform for markets and infrastructure. The firm's recommendation: a capitalist "New Deal."

Third, digital mobility will help create jobs, and cities that have a connected grid infrastructure will retain citizens.

Last, food and water supply remain critical issues for cities -- the "largest risk to urban and regional development" that, left unchecked, could bring back health issues and stifle innovation.

Interesting stuff, though it's no doubt difficult to quantify "innovation" and then rank cities. (I wonder if strata would have been a better format.)

Do you agree with the rankings?

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com