Boston and Copenhagen top the list this year as cities with the smartest people, economies, and leadership.
What makes a city “smart”? It isn’t just the education levels of the populace, though that is one of the key variables Cohen uses to create his rankings. A city’s “smarts” also comes about due to a combination of initiatives, including high-tech infrastructure, economic strength, entrepreneurial culture, quality of life, and sustainability plans.
Of course, with all this smartness comes a price. Many of the cities Cohen listed also have the highest costs of living in the world. There are some who would say living with high costs is not so “smart” — hence the rising appeal of many midwestern U.S. cities, or so-called second-tier cities (such as Richmond, Virginia or Darmstadt, Germany) in which business and life can be conducted on a much more cost-effective basis.
Nevertheless, here are the top cities for which many other favorable smartness factors have come together:
- Boston. World-class entrepreneurial ecosystem, bolstered by top universities.
- San Francisco. High quality of life, civic-mindedness, and world’s leading technology environment.
- Seattle. Smart governance, e-governance, high economic performance.
- Vancouver. Highest quality of life in North America, and a very green city.
- New York City. Visionary leadership, smart governance, highly walkable and accessible.
- Washington, D.C. E-governance, and a pioneer in the adoption of new technology/
- Toronto. High quality of life, highly educated population.
- Chicago. Green initiatives, commitment to open data and digital access.
- Los Angeles. A budding technology entrepreneurial ecosystem, including “dozens of technology accelerators and incubators.”
- Montreal. High quality of life, highly accessible.
- Copenhagen. Greenest city on the planet; highly educated population.
- Stockholm. Green city, strong economy.
- Amsterdam. Highly accessible, highly education population.
- Vienna. Smart mobility, smart governance, e-governance.
- Paris. “The second-best city in Europe for startups.”
- Berlin. “Berlin has low rental prices, low housing costs, lower salaries, a high-quality labor force, great engineers, and it’s a fun and creative place.”
- London. “Rated the number one startup capital in all of Europe… the conditions for entrepreneurs are similar to those found in U.S. startup hubs like the Silicon Valley or NYC.”
- Barcelona. Visionary leadership, e-governance.
- Munich. High quality of life, home of many corporate headquarters.
- Frankfurt. High quality of life, green initiatives.
(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)