Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
July, 17th 2009

Innovation is on the agenda again. No, I am not saying innovation had ever disappeared from the agenda of important things, but the term seemed to have somewhat disappeared from the agenda of public debate for the last couple of months, replaced by intensive and – of course important – discussions on the economic crisis, recession, credit crunch, climate change, as if all these negative terms and cirumstances should not be mentioned in connection with something positive like innovation.

And yet this comes as a surprise given how important innovation is, especially in times like this, for growth, productivity and job creation: Not only, as well known, at a national level, but also at a company level as evidenced and confirmed by more than 1,100 CEOs we interviewed in our CEO Study 2008.

But it is innovation for cities that I want to talk about today.

Of course, the need for innovation in cities is nothing new and the important role of innovation for cities has already been highlighted in the work by Richard Florida and CEOs for Cities in their ‘City Vitals’ report. Indeed, it is interesting to see that Richard Florida has just picked up the discussion on innovation again in this week’s blog where he discusses the role and status of innovation in the US today.

Measuring innovation is notoriously difficult – whether it is at a company or national level – and good reports on innovation at country level are published each year by, for example, the INSEAD Business School and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Measuring innovation at city level is a more recent endeavour, driven by the increased recognition of the key roles cities play in the world economy and somewhat hampered by the difficulty of getting high quality and relevant city data that help to measure city performance. The Innovation Cities Index is a relatively new initiative in this space, introduced in 2007 covering only 21 cities, and expected to cover 256 cities when its 2009 version gets published later this month. I am very excited to see the new report, which as a preview of the report indicates, will have increased focus on measuring cities’  innovation by looking at indicators related to a city’s infrastructure and its ability to deal with environmental challenges, thus aligning well with some of the objectives driving IBM’s Smart City approach.

Do you agree with the results of the above innovation index for 2008 ? How did your city do in the ranking ? Which, in your view, is the most innovative city in the world, and why ?

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