Which Cities Are the Most Innovative?

One of the fabulous things about being young and unburdened by hefty family responsibilities is the ability to move. Crazy about tech? Now's the time to put down roots in Silicon Valley. Obsessed with politics? Off to DC with you. But what if your ideal city is a little less clear cut?

You're looking for a vibrant city with good employment opportunities across a variety of industries and plenty of interesting people to meet. Where should you head? Creative class guru Richard Florida has offered suggestions with his book Who's Your City?, or of course you can let the numbers of job openings in a city or pundits' predictions of the next boom towns guide you. But now you also have another source of information to consider. Australian think tank 2thinknow has just released its annual ranking of the top 100 most innovative global cities.

So what does their list suggest? If you're American, immigration papers may be in order. Of the top 20 cities, only three are in the US, though (surprisingly to me) Boston did take the top spot. Here's the list:

  1. Boston
  2. Paris
  3. Amsterdam
  4. Vienna
  5. New York
  6. Frankfurt
  7. San Francisco
  8. Copenhagen
  9. Lyon
  10. Hamburg
  11. Berlin
  12. Toronto
  13. Stuttgart
  14. London
  15. Munich
  16. Milan
  17. Stockholm
  18. Hong Kong
  19. Melbourne
  20. Tokyo
As a bit of a connoisseur of cities (currently happily resident in the list's #3 and having lived in 14, 7 and 5) I have to say my experience says that official statistics aren't the best predictor of where you'll enjoy living. Personal factors like the match between your preferred lifestyle and the city's vibe, as well as your ability to make meaningful connections with others in the area, have always mattered more to me. (Also, sorry London, but for me the weather matters too.) Nonetheless everyone likes a good list, and a little more data might just tip the scales toward one town or another.

If you're uninterested in dealing with immigration lawyers, a list of the top 15 US cities can be found here. Did any of the cities on the list (or left off of it) surprise you?

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(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Caitlinator, CC 2.0)