Just as innovation is crucial to the long-term success of a business, so too is it key to a successful city. And there is something about the chaos of cities that make them the perfect breeding ground for innovation – powered by a mix of smart ideas, collaboration, and diversity.

Innovation is centred on ideas continually mixing, combining, failing, and re-emerging. An innovative city could be one where global multinational companies achieve major breakthroughs, where pioneering research is carried out by universities, or where start-ups create new ideas and concepts. These cities are where the tech scene flourishes, and where we can work towards the future.

Earlier this year, JLL’s Cities Research Centre identified ten city ‘types’. Looking at cities’ performance and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, the research identified similarities between the world’s cities and grouped them into new classifications. Let’s take a look at the world’s most innovative cities!

The Big Seven

Top of the pile are the ‘Big Seven’ global cities, including London and Hong Kong. These are cities that have long been hubs of innovation, are home to global corporations and leading universities, and attract top talent from around the world.

The Contenders

Hot on the heels of the ‘Big Seven’ are the ‘Contenders’. These are the cities that have acquired many (but not yet all) of the ‘Big Seven’s’ attributes. San Francisco, Sydney and Amsterdam all feature on the Contenders list and are competing for that higher level of global talent, capital and business.

The Innovators

Away from the top-tier cities, there are a number of mid-sized cities that possess high tech, innovation and research capabilities, making them important in high-value economies.

Named ‘Innovators’, these smaller cities are benefiting from the economic shift towards technology and research-based industries. These cities also have the advantage of more affordable housing and fewer environmental problems compared to their larger rivals, meaning they are a more appealing option for businesses and talent.

One of these ‘Innovator’ cities is Berlin – attracting a diverse talent pool from around the world because of its cheaper living costs and vibrant cultural scene. In 2015, Berlin attracted more venture capital funding than either Paris or London; it’s no wonder it now boasts a growing number of start-ups and can compete with much larger cities.

The Lifestyle Cities

Also on the list are the ‘Lifestyle’ cities – those which boast a great quality of life. Including the likes of Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland, these cities are particularly attractive to niche knowledge and technology sectors.


Every city on the list possesses its own appeal and rewards. Many of these cities can punch above their weight, positioning themselves as key technology hubs, brimming with innovation and diversity. With new technologies emerging all the time, the most successful cities will be those that can respond to new, disruptive tech and continue to attract top talent.

With many of our offices based in the world’s most innovative cities, your job search just got a bit more dynamic. Get in touch with our global IT, technology and digital recruitment team to see how we can help you.