Top 10 most competitive cities today (and how to leapfrog them tomorrow)

Wed, 2013-08-14 13:40 -- Jesse Berst

The research arm of The Economist has just published a report benchmarking the global competitiveness of the world's 120 largest cities. We list the top ten below. You can also read a quick summary at 24/7 Wall Street but I suggest you download the full report. It's worth the read for its insights into the many factors that make a city more competitive. Infrastructure plays a key role, but there are many other factors as well.

EIU not only gives current benchmarks, but also predicts how cities will score by 2025.

Here at the Smart Cities Council, we agree with the EIU's current rankings, but we doubt that its predictions will be accurate. The EIU is largely extrapolating current trends. But cities now have a way to leapfrog past their rivals -- namely, smart technologies, which can substantially enhance livability, workability and sustainability. In fact, economic development (competitiveness) is one of the two major drivers of smart city technology purchases. (Resilience is the other.) We believe we're on the cusp of an era that will see cities racing at breakneck pace to install the digital foundations for prosperity.

That's why we predict that 2025 will bring surprises, not merely a continuation of today's trend lines. So read this report for what it says about where things are today. But know that your city isn't stuck on its current track. It can use digital technology to catapult ahead. -- Jesse Berst

Some highlights from the rankings:

  • U.S. and European cities are the world’s most competitive today, despite concerns over aging infrastructure and large budget deficits. Cities from the U.S. and Western Europe account for 24 of the top 30 cities.
  • Asian cities dominate the “economic strength” category of the competitiveness index—the most highly weighted category. All but five of the top 20 cities on this measure are Asian.
  • A “middle tier” of mid-size cities is emerging as a key driver of global growth. Although most firms target a combination of advanced economies and emerging market megacities, the fastest overall growth is found in a middle tier of mid-sized cities with populations of 2 to 5 million.

The report suggests that the most significant advantage that large, developed cities have is their ability to nurture and attract the world’s top talent. European and American cities dominate the human capital category of the index. This stems primarily from the quality of their educational systems and the entrepreneurial mindset of their citizens

Infrastructure investments will drive emerging market growth, but more will be needed to secure their attractiveness to tomorrow’s talent.

Top 10 most competitive cities

1. New York

2. London

3. Singapore

4. Paris

4. Hong Kong (tie)

6. Tokyo

7. Zurich

8. Washington

9. Chicago

10. Boston


Jesse Berst is the Founding Chairman of Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.