High-tech Tokyo tops list of world's most innovative cities

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tokyo topped a list of the world’s most innovative cities on Friday, leapfrogging London and New York after embracing the “globe-shaking trends of robotics and 3D manufacturing”.

The Japanese capital has risen rapidly since entering the top 10 of the Innovation Cities Index three years ago behind Paris, and was one of three Asian cities to feature this year.

“What really surprised us this year was the resurgence of Tokyo, moving up to eclipse rival cities like Boston,” said Christopher Hire, director of commercial data provider 2thinknow, which publishes the annual ranking.

“They showed clear direction by embracing smart technology change to lead innovation and leadership in what we have identified as the twin long-term globe-shaking trends of robotics and 3D manufacturing.”

Singapore, Sydney and Seoul also ranked highly in the index, which judges cities on 162 indicators including web censorship, wealth distribution and the potential for green businesses.

San Francisco and New York both made the top five, while smaller U.S. cities such as San Diego, Portland and Oakland featured highly, demonstrating their attractiveness to tech companies priced out of the San Francisco Bay Area.

“We found on a population-adjusted basis many small cities are punching above their weight. It’s the year of big cities with physical networks and small cities with digital networks,” said Hire in a statement.

London ranked second after losing the top spot to Tokyo as Europe lost ground, scoring fewer cities in the top 100 than in previous years.

Japan has built a reputation as an early adopter of new technologies.

It recently launched facial recognition technology ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and has invested in artificial intelligence for vehicles, hospitals and financial services.