Published: February 23rd, 2017

In Canada’s quest to become internationally known as a digitally innovative country, its largest city Toronto placed 8th in the annual list of best digital innovative cities index produced by the Australian-firm 2thinknow. 2thinknow models and measures innovation for businesses who are seeking new cities to expand into. This is the 10th anniversary of the list that had London claim the top spot for its second year in a row besting the Big Apple New York.

While New York took top spot the rankings underlined a group of resurgent cities that included Toronto along with Tokyo, Los Angeles, Singapore, Paris and Vienna.

Toronto was in 11th spot last year and over all Canadian cities did extremely well. Montreal was 19th up from 41 the previous year; Vancouver placed 24th up from 35th spot; Quebec City came in at No. 57 up five spots from 62nd place last year; and Calgary was 83rd up from 87th. There was some disappointing news as Edmonton who came in 108th last year dropped to 127th place in this year’s rankings.

Other Canadian cities on the list include:

  • Ottawa at No. 131;
  • Hamilton, Ont. At No. 208;
  • Halifax at No. 210;
  • Winnipeg at No. 227;
  • London, Ont. At No. 264;
  • Kitchener, Ont. At No. 267;
  • Moncton, N.B. at No. 311; and
  • Fredericton and St. John, N.B. at No. 313.

The index classifies 500 cities into four judged areas of innovation. From there a score is assigned to each city derived from 162 indicators for measuring conditions conducive to creating innovation in a city. Those areas are named ‘Nexus’ cities of which there were 53 cities, and there were 125 ‘Hub’ cities, which is the second area. ‘Next’ comprises 260 cities in the next globally competitive ‘Node’ category.

The judging on Nexus ascertained a city’s top percentage growth globally. Another critical measurement in Nexus is multiple economic and social innovation pre-conditions across multiple industry segments.

For Hub Cities, these are classified as a challenger city that is innovating in key segments. For Node cities they looked at if they are globally competitive. Finally, in Upstart, is a city moving towards being globally competitive.

Christopher Hire, the director of data at 2thinknow, said this year innovation can come from more locations than ever, due to digital cities a broader number of cities score within the second ‘Hub’ classification. Meaning the data and analysis found greater competition between cities beneath the top few percent of ‘Leadership’ Cities which have separated from the pack.

According to Hire, London is the clear winner based on the city’s strong view of innovation and focus on observation of democracy, in embracing the results of ‘Brexit’ – showcasing the importance of an orderly acceptance of the results of democratic process, and a new British ‘stiff upper lip’ resilience to unprecedented change.

Nine of the top Nexus cities were in Asia, including Seoul (11), Sydney (14), Beijing (30) and Osaka (50). In North America, Dallas-Ft. Worth (16) and Atlanta (18) improved dramatically in ranking, and ten more North American cities replaced European cities this year. Fast-rising top-ranked cities were Barcelona (13), Dallas-Ft. Worth (16), Houston (22), Madrid (23), Beijing (30) and Denver (42).

Another key observation in the analysis was ‘Recovery cities’, which was shown in the quick rise of cities such as Detroit and Athens, Greece (climbing 223 places) based on renewed economic activity.

In the methodology there are three areas of focus:

Cultural Assets of a city from arts to sports industries.
Human Infrastructure, from mobility to start-ups, health, finance and more.
Networked Markets, the power of a city in a networked world.

Other factors include measuring a city’s healthcare, wealth distribution, population and geography.

In last place is Kinshasa of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

One quick hit before I go. A lot of retirements announced this month with Rick Reid of Tech Data Canada and Dave MacDonald of Softchoice both announcing they will be stepping aside sometime this summer. CDN wishes both of them the very best.


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