A city’s capacity to embrace rapid change determines its ability to compete in the world – today and in the future, according to JLL’s 2017 City Momentum Index (CMI). With more than half the world’s population currently living in cities, and urbanization growing exponentially, the success of our cities takes on an even greater imperative. The overriding factors that characterize the world’s most dynamic cities are technology and innovation — and cities that best absorb, adapt and leverage these drivers come out on top.
Although the most dynamic cities are spread throughout the world, more than half of the top 30 in the 2017 ranking are in Asia-Pacific.
What has become apparent is that these cities are now becoming more tightly networked and most are outperforming their national economies. Whether new regional technology hubs such as Nairobi, established global gateways like London, or emerging global cities like Shanghai, these cities integrate change and technology into their DNA. Moreover, the most successful cities seek to sustain momentum and innovation by cultivating their research and educational capabilities, and by investing in infrastructure.
Short-term versus long-term momentum
The index examines 42 variables in each of the 134 cities or metropolitan areas. Those factors can be grouped into three areas: two that reflect strengths for short-term changes and one used to determine longer-term economic sustainability.
The first set of factors, which accounts for 40% of the overall ranking, includes socio-economic factors – GDP, population, air passengers, corporate headquarters and foreign direct investment. The second, accounting for 30%, focuses on commercial real estate momentum, which encompasses changes related to construction, rents, investment and transparency in the office, retail and hotel sectors.
The third group includes innovation capacity and technological prowess, access to education and environmental quality. It accounts for 30% of the index. Without a concentration on education and the environment, without strong economies and business practices that encourage start-ups and patent applications, without what we call “future-proofing,” these cities can flame out.
Taking a step back, a pattern emerges based on each city’s position on the evolution curve. At one end are “established” world cities, such as London (No. 6), New York (No. 14), Paris (No. 17) and Los Angeles (No. 27), which absorb changes and technology that complement and add to diverse businesses. At the other end are “high potential” cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City (No.2) and Hanoi (No. 8). These cities continue to attract capital from foreign investors betting on their transition from low-wage manufacturing to high-value activities. Fast-growing Nairobi (No. 10), which is experiencing a development boom, is on the watch list as a regional technology hub.