Press Release: Smart Centres Index 1

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

London Leads, Yet US Dominates The Top Ten In The First Smart Centres Index Results

Z/Yen today launched the first edition of the Smart Centres Index (SCI 1), which is designed to track the development of technology and financial centres across the world in their support for and readiness for new technology applications.

Investors, entrepreneurs, scientists, media, academics, governments, and regulators can attune their cities to attract innovation and growth in Science, Technology, Energy Systems, Machine Learning, Distributed Ledgers, or Fintech. Tuning a city for innovation is complex. Z/Yen began studying successful and unsuccessful business innovation clustering some 15 years ago, and most recently in 2018 with the publication of the Smart Jurisdictions Index. Building on the results of that research we have created a novel factor assessment index based on three dimensions - innovation support, creative intensity, and delivery capability.

The SCI uses assessments from private and public sector individuals, along with 127 instrumental factors, to rate the centres. This is an important launch of a project that will grow substantially as more people pay attention to the ways centres can help globally innovative businesses thrive in rapidly changing times.

Smart Centres Index - Headlines

  • London takes first place in the index, with New York second, and Singapore in third place.
  • Five of the top ten places in the ranking are taken by US centres.
  • The leading centres are strong across all three of the SCI dimensions.
  • Chinese centres do not feature as strongly as we might have expected, and score on average lower for Innovation Support than their overall rating.
  • The great majority of centres featured in SCI 1 are located in North America, Asia/Pacific, and Western Europe.

The top 15 centres in SCI 1 are shown in the table below.

Table SCI 1 Top 15.png

Other Results

North America

  • Ten North American centres feature in the SCI, and the US dominates the top of the rankings, with US cities taking five of the top ten places globally - New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.
  • Along with ranking second overall, New York also ranks second in each of the three dimensions which make up the SCI.
  • Vancouver scores high in creative intensity, ranking 9th against its overall SCI ranking of 17th.


  • Three of the 13 Asia/Pacific centres in the index - Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo - feature in the world top ten.
  • The majority of Asia/Pacific centres scored lower for innovation support, including regulation, than their overall ranking in the SCI.
  • Chinese centres such as Shenzhen, which have strong technology ecosystems, do not feature as highly in the index as we might have expected. This may be because those commenting on Chinese centres know more Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai better than other centres.

Western Europe

  • Twenty centres in Western Europe feature in the index, with London and Zurich in the global top ten.
  • The majority of Western European centres score higher for innovation support, including regulation, than their overall rank. This suggests that systems of public support for, and regulation of innovation and technology are a strength in the region.
  • Stockholm scores significantly higher than its overall rating in creative intensity, while Oxford and Cambridge in the UK score significantly higher for delivery capability.

Other Regions

  • Only five of the centres in SCI 1 are from other regions of the world - Middle East & Africa, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, and Latin America & The Caribbean.
  • Of these centres, Dubai is rated highest, ranked at 34th in the world.

Full details of SCI 1 can be found at

Professor Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman of Z/Yen said:

“Innovation and technology go hand in hand in driving the economy, manufacturing, trade, and finance. It is vital to a commercial and financial centre’s success that systems of regulation, business support, and the development of city ecosystems are geared to harness the talents of those working to create new products in new ways. The commercial centres of the future that make most impact will excel in innovation through attracting talent and creating jobs and wealth. This index provides the basis to track cities’ progress in the economy of the future.”


Information For Editors

About SCI 1

SCI 1 rates 48 commercial and financial centres across the world combining assessments from technology and financial professionals with quantitative data which form instrumental factors.

SCI 1 uses 965 assessments of cities collected from technology and financial services professionals who responded to the GFCI online questionnaire. The SCI will be updated every six months.

The SCI builds on the Smart Jurisdictions Index published by Z/Yen in 2018.

Long Finance

The SCI is part of the Long Finance initiative (, which undertakes research programmes on Financial Centre Futures, Sustainable Futures, Distributed Futures, Eternal Coin, and Meta-Commerce. Please get in touch for more details on Long Finance.


For more information please email Mike Wardle at or by phone on +44 (0) 20 7562 9562 or +44 (0) 7880 737319.