Europe is for innovation

Australian agency 2thinknow issued a report about a hundred most innovative cities of the world. The chart about presents the first 20 cities, and the full list can be found at their website (albeit the report is not for free, and not cheap).

The dominance of European cities in the list is remarkable; 13 out of the top 20 most innovative cities are in Europe (and in total 57 of one hundred). It resonates very well with the opinions of the IT industry captains I’ve heard during the most recent congress in Amsterdam: all as one they mentioned a very distinctive innovation climate created in Europe. This creative and inspiring atmosphere is far from the usual cliche of Europe as an ageing and boring babushka; quite the opposite: ever complex, multilayered, and often turbulent realties of the Europe resulted in creation of a very characteristic thinking: open, vibrant and agile.

It’s of course a pleasure to see Amsterdam in the top three cities (The Hague (55) and Rotterdam (70) are there too, but not Eindhoven). The latter is trying hard to position itself as a center of creativity and design, and the mission of the Eindhoven-based Brainport Development agency is all about supporting innovation and ‘industries of the future’. It’s interesting that the key assumption of the Brainport vision is the unique position of the city, in the center of the vortex of creativity in Europe. Which is true, almost all nearest cities – Antwerp, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Aachen, Frankfurt – are in this list. But Eindhoven is not yet there.

As a side note, St. Petersburg and Moscow of Russia managed to get in, but only on 84th and 97th places, respectively.

It’s always difficult to judge such a ranking without a clear description of the criteria used and the data they gathered. But it’s clearly more that just the usual economic indicators, or industrial and political might that propelled the cities to this list, and rather their capacity to mobilize people’s and communal creativity, similar to the views expressed at the Human Cities festival in Brussels (as well as at many other similar events, of course).

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