The most high-tech cities in the world: report

New York is a special kind of tech heavyweight

New York is a special kind of tech heavyweight (Image credit: Geektown.ca)

Within the next half of a century, the World Health Organization predicts that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. That’s an additional 2.5 billion people.

But the cities that will flourish the most are those that rely on cutting-edge technologies and create opportunities for people to develop new ones.

To get a sense of which cities in what country are doing what they can to embrace cutting-edge technology, Business Insider teamed up with a research company named 2thinknow to analyze and rank some of the most high-tech cities of the world.

The firm chose 10 factors related to technological advancement — including the number of patents filed per capita, startups, tech venture capitalists, ranking in other innovation data-sets, and level of smartphone use — weighted them, and ranked a list of 85 cities accordingly.

If you want to know what the future will look like, these are the cities to keep an eye on.

Here are the top ten:

10. Chicago, Illinois, United States
You might not think of the Midwest as a startup magnet, but Chicago is quickly proving that assumption false. A recent report found Illinois was among the top five in high-tech jobs in the U.S., with the Windy City making up a big chunk of those spots.

Brookings Institute also finds Chicago is a hotbed for urban planning innovation, driven largely by City Digital, a project designed to solve problems related to energy transfer and transportation.

9. Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Rife with startups and innovative infrastructure, stemming from places like the Cisco Innovation Center, this largest Canadian city is home to 30% of Canada’s IT firms, the majority of which
have fewer than 50 employees. That means there’s a crop of young companies poised to make an impact in the next decade.

Overall, Toronto-based companies account for approximately $52 billion in yearly revenue.

8. Singapore
Aside from being a giant, rain-absorbing sponge, Singapore boasts an extremely high number of
programmers and venture capitalists. The city-state is constantly introducing new infrastructure and high-tech high-rises, including one with an entire forest in the atrium.

It has partnered with MIT to build smarter transportation that relies less on private cars and more on public trains and light rail.

7. Boston, Massachusetts, United States
A huge number of exciting technologies have been coming out of Boston over the last several years from STEM elites like MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern — many of them in the biotech and robotic fields.

This New England city has a handful of venture capital firms (Battery Ventures, Atlas Venture, Bessemer Venture Partners, Matrix Venture Partners) that pour money into innovation labs and university startups. And big-name companies like Facebook and Amazon have set up R&D offices in Boston to pull from this growing pool of talent.

6. Seoul, South Korea
Seoul has been called the city of the future, and rightfully so. Innovation is practically baked into its design, as its metro system may even have New York’s subway beat.

According to 2thinknow, Seoul files more patents than just about any city in the world. It has developed technology that is already ubiquitous — such as the LTE beamed to our smartphones — as well as tech still in its infancy, like virtual stores where you scan pictures of items to be
delivered later.

5. Taipei, Taiwan
According to 2thinknow’s analysis, Taipei is the far-and-away leader when it comes to industrial design. This has been the case for years — the Taiwanese capital much prefers to delve into hardware rather than software. Some of the largest PC companies call the city home, including Asus, HTC, MSI, Gigabyte, and Acer.

According to 2thinknow, Taipei also scores highly in its number of venture capitalists.

4. Los Angeles, California, United States
Film isn’t the only industry in LA.

In 2014, a report by the LA County Economic Development Corporation suggested that LA had more high-tech sector jobs than any other region in the US. The report also found the total wealth output hovers around $58 billion. When 2thinknow performed its analysis, it found the same: Startups and venture capital play a major role in LA’s tech sector boom.

3. London, England, United Kingdoms 
London has become a public transportation dream over the last year with the introduction of its Crossrail project. By 2018, 10 new train lines will connect 30 existing stations with brand-new tunnels. At $20 billion, it’s the largest construction project in Europe.

2thinknow finds London has more startups and programmers than almost any other city in the world. By some estimates, there may be more IT jobs in London than all of California.

Some estimates say there will be 11,000 new tech jobs added within the next decade.

2. New York, New York, United States
New York is a special kind of tech heavyweight. It is both extremely dated in its infrastructure, but at the same time, unbelievably progressive.

According to the state comptroller’s office, nearly 7,000 high-tech companies in New York City provided more than 100,000 jobs during the third quarter of 2013. In addition to starting companies, the city also launches integrated, citywide technology: LinkNYC, a free Wifi service, has
over 500 kiosks around Manhattan available for public use, and many experts believe the city is just getting started.

1. San Francisco, California
If every city claims to be the “Silicon Valley” of its particular home country, you can guarantee Silicon Valley is the gold standard for tech.

Since 2thinknow defines the region by its largest neighboring city, San Francisco takes the top spot. It is the undeniable epicenter of all things tech, from its gigantic startup culture to its venture capital scene to its population of designers and programmers.

— Check out this Business Insider article to go beyond the top 10 most high-tech cities in the world