The 25 Most High-Tech Cities in the World

August 10, 2017, 3:46 PM UTC
Washington Monument
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

Cities are the way of the future.

In less than 35 years, the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. That’s an additional 2.5 billion people. 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 do that the best, Business Insider consulted 2thinknow, a research firm that specializes in analyzing innovative cities, to rank the most high-tech cities in 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 datasets, 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.

Washington Monument
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

25. Washington, DC

The US capital has been rapidly expanding its tech scene over the last decade, growing its overall number of tech-related jobs by 50%.

In addition, more than 1,000 startups call DC home. The proximity to the federal government mixed with the deep pockets of nearby venture-capital firms makes starting a world-changing company an appealing prospect in the city.

Barcelona skyline
Agbar tower and Sagrada familia at night. Jean-Pierre Lescourret — Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
Jean-Pierre Lescourret — Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

24. Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish city cracked the top 25 for the first time since last year’s ranking, in particular for its growing population of industrial designers and prominent smartphone use.

Smartphone infrastructure is so sophisticated, in fact, that electrical boxes strewn around Barcelona contain computers that capture noise levels, traffic patterns, and how many selfies people take.

Read more: 12 things everyone should do in Barcelona

Nyhavn district in Copenhagen, Denmark
People are walking in Nyhavn, a 17th-century waterfront and entertainment district with brightly coloured townhouses, bars, cafes and restaurants. Tolga_TEZCAN—Getty Images
Tolga_TEZCAN—Getty Images

23. Copenhagen, Denmark

What Copenhagen lacks in startup culture and venture capital, it makes up for with innovative urban planning and a strong contingent of industrial designers — factors that 2thinknow praises as signs the city prioritizes smart manufacturing.

By 2025, the city plans to sever its dependence on fossil fuel, due in large part to harnessed wind energy. Its robust bike culture and fleet of architecture firms allow Copenhagen to be a city that’s not just green, but beautiful.

Famous electronics street in Hong Kong.
Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mongkok, Hong Kong, which is famous for it’s large number of electronics shops.Tim Martin—Getty Images/Aurora Creative
Tim Martin—Getty Images/Aurora Creative

22. Hong Kong, China

Rather than excel in one particular category, Hong Kong hits just about every box in terms of its advancement.

The city devotes enormous amount of money toward research and development and city-wide innovation, boasting some of the fastest Internet speeds in China. Its high-tech exports total $243 billion, or 51% of the total exported goods.

Berlin winter skyline with snow on the roofs
Berliner Dom, Fischerinsel, Rotes Rathaus, Fernsehturm, SpreeriverGetty Images
Getty Images

22. Berlin, Germany

Not to be outdone, Germany’s capital city boasts a strong start-up culture and has some of the highest rates of venture capital investment in Europe.

Berlin is also the locus for much of Europe’s automobile industry. It is the only city in the world where all of the major automative brands are represented.

Night of nanshan,Shenzhen City
Aoruan MO/Getty Images
Aoruan MO/Getty Images

20. Shenzhen, China

Patents are flying out of Shenzhen, a city in southern China that boasts a population of 11 million.

As part of the country’s push toward manufacturing, Shenzhen has grown significantly over the last several years as a hub for factories and robotics. Multiple telecom and electronics giants have found a home base in the city.

Images Of Indian Economy Ahead of FY13 GDP Projection
Pedestrians and traffic move along Brigade Road in Bangalore, India, on Monday, Feb. 4, 2013.Sanjit Das—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Sanjit Das—Bloomberg/Getty Images

No other city in 2thinknow’s ranking climbed as far compared to 2016’s ranking as Bangalore, which moved from 49th place to 19th.

The change is due to an influx of IT companies and the city’s enormous population of programmers. Half of India is under 25, and many are entering the growing tech space, creating a virtuous circle of growth.

Montreal, Old Port and Modern Skyline
Canada, Quebec, Montreal, Old Montreal or Vieux-Montreal, Old Port, Old Port and Modern SkylineGetty Images
Getty Images

18. Montreal, Canada

If you want to be an industrial designer or programmer, you should consider moving to Montreal. If you want to work in wearable technology (or virtual reality), even better.

Montreal is home to Vrvana, a VR headset manufacturer, and the companies Hexoskin and OMSignal, which both make clothes that measure wearers’ biometric signals. The city also has a fairly strong startup culture.

Alibaba Group Hosts Inaugural Taobao Maker Festival In Shanghai
Visitors try VR gadgets a day before the official opening of the Taobao Maker Festival at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center on July 21, 2016 in Shanghai, China. VCG/Getty Images
VCG/Getty Images

The closest Shanghai has to Silicon Valley is the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. It houses more than 100,000 workers split between thousands of tech companies.

Like most of China’s high-tech cities, Shanghai excels in patents and venture capital. That may be because manufacturing has become a top priority in China, and companies are eager to protect (and invest in) their intellectual property.

Operations At The High-Tech Indoor Cofco Wisdom Farm
An employee harvests tomatoes from vines inside a greenhouse at the high-tech indoor Cofco Wisdom Farm operated by Cofco Corp. on the outskirts of Beijing, China, on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017. Qilai Shen—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Qilai Shen—Bloomberg/Getty Images

16. Beijing, China

Though it may lack the startup culture of other high-tech cities, Beijing is renowned for its city-wide use of smartphones and the number of patents filed per capita. It venture capital scene has also grown rapidly over the past several years.

The city climbed 15 spots since the 2016 rankings.

Electric car from Car2Go fleet charges batteries near Dam Square on April 22, 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Horacio Villalobos—Corbis Corbis/Getty Images
Horacio Villalobos—Corbis Corbis/Getty Images
Amsterdam’s combination of financial technology, energy efficiency, and startup culture make it a powerhouse in Europe, despite being much smaller than its neighbors. (It has only a third of Berlin’s population, for example.)

In April, lawmakers announced they wanted to ban gas and diesel cars by 2025 in favor of electric vehicles — perhaps the city’s most visible sign of its look toward the future.

U2 Performs At BC Place
Rock band U2 performs on stage during their ‘The Joshua Tree World Tour’ opener at BC Place on May 12, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. Andrew Chin—Getty Images
Andrew Chin—Getty Images

14. Vancouver, Canada

In 2014, the CBC called Vancouver “Silicon Valley North” in recognition of its strong start-up culture.

There are more than 600 digital media companies that generate more than $2 billion in revenue. Tech-focused universities and low corporate tax rates, meanwhile, make the city attractive for both up-and-coming engineers as well as established executives.

Read more: Vancouver’s real estate prices surge to an all-time high

Sweden, Stockholm, High angle view over Riddarholmen and Riddarholmskyrkan church at sunrise
Stockholm, Sweden, Northern Europe. High angle view over Riddarholmen and Riddarholmskyrkan (church) at sunrise. Marco Bottigelli—Getty Images/AWL Images RM
Marco Bottigelli—Getty Images/AWL Images RM

With missions to go cash-free and oil-freewithin the next five years, Stockholm is fully embracing the digital and environmental revolutions.

The city also has the most billion-dollar startups in Europe and the world’s second-fastest-growing market for venture capital investments. It’s no wonder that programmers are flocking to the Swedish capital.

Neons And Jellyfish Attract Tokyoites To High-tech Aquarium
People look at the Jellyfish display at the EPSON Aqua Park Shinagawa on July 15, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. Chris McGrath—Getty Images
Chris McGrath—Getty Images

12. Tokyo, Japan

The largest city in the world doesn’t achieve that feat without impressive levels of infrastructure — transportation in particular. Tokyo’s subway system, for example, is used by 2.3 billion people every year.

Tokyo excels in venture capital investments, and is home to a dizzying number of tech giants, many of which are already preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games.

Dallas Texas Skyline
Dallas downtown cityscape in Texas USA. Pgiam—Getty Images/iStockphoto
Pgiam—Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just within the last couple years, Dallas has established itself as a startup hub.

In 2thinknow’s analysis, the Texas city climbed from 28th in 2016 to just outside the top 10 because of its rapid growth in the number of venture capitalists and integration of technology into the city landscape.

Aerial shot of Chicago city
Howard Kingsnorth—Getty Images
Howard Kingsnorth—Getty Images

10. Chicago, Illinois

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 US, 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 CityWorks, a project designed to solve problems related to energy transfer and transportation.

Police Robotics
A Ryerson University research group is using a “telepresence robot” from Double Robotics to communicate and collaborate with other researchers in a sister lab at Georgia Tech. Chris So—Toronto Star/Getty Images
Chris So Toronto Star via Getty Images
Rife with startups and innovative infrastructure, stemming from places like the Cisco Innovation Center, Toronto 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, the city’s firms account for approximately $52 billion in yearly revenue.

Tallest Car Vending Machine In Singapore
A 15-story tower touted as the world’s largest luxury car vending machine, filled with luxury high-end cars from used car seller on May 17, 2017 in Singapore City, Singapore. Barcroft Media/Getty Images
Barcroft Media/Getty Images

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 carsand more on public trains and light rail.

Cambridge Medical Robotics Company Myomo
Gene Tacy, Vice president of Engineering at Myomo, checks a robotic device on the arm of CEO Paul Gudonis, left, at the Myomo medical robotic lab in Cambridge, MA on Apr. 17, 2017. David L. Ryan—Boston Globe/Getty Images
David L. Ryan—Boston Globe/Getty Images
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.

The 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.

A visitor walks pass a wall painted with various information technology products the annual Computex computer exhibition in Taipei on May 31, 2016. Sam Yeh—AFP/Getty Images
SAM YEH AFP/Getty Images
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.

Silicon Beach Blooms As Venture Capital Triples Since 2010
Employees work inside the offices of Fullscreen Inc. in the Playa Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images
Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg/Getty Images

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 city much prefers to delve into hardware rather than software. Some of the largest PC companies call the city home, including Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and Acer.

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

Read more: 23 reasons why you should book your next trip to Taiwan

Inside Netmarble Games Corp. Headquarters As Company Seeks as Much as $2.4 Billion in IPO for Gamemaker
Employees play mobile games on smartphones in the cafeteria at the Netmarble Games Corp. headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, April 14, 2017. SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg/Getty Images
SeongJoon Cho—Bloomberg/Getty Images

4. Los Angeles, California

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.

Construction workers work on a section of train track inside the Crossrail tunnel, beneath Stepney in east London on November 16, 2016. Ben Stansall — AFP/Getty Images
Ben Stansall — AFP/Getty Images

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.

LinkNYC's Internet Kiosks As Web Browsing Capabilities Will Be Disabled
Pedestrians walk past a LinkNYC kiosk on 8th Avenue in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. New York City’s experiment to let people browse the internet from public terminals on city streets has ended, at least for now. John Taggart—Bloomberg/Getty Images
John Taggart—Bloomberg/Getty Images

2. New York, New York

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.

Daily life in San Francisco Bay Area
Tourist visit the headquarter of [hotlink]Google[/hotlink] in Mountain View, California. Yichuan Cao—NurPhoto/Getty Images
Yichuan Cao—NurPhoto/Getty Images

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.

Silicon Valley wins in just about every category because the supply chain of innovation has made its home there, even as smaller contenders claw at the title.

This article originally appeared on