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The 100 Best Cities for the Future of Business

The Finom Innovation in Business Index reveals which global cities are focal points for conceiving new ideas and solutions in the business world, as well as the industries in which they excel.

  • San Francisco is the highest-ranking city in the index, scoring highly on factors like company R&D spending and tech ecosystem. Beijing and New York rank second and third. Paris is the only European city in the global Top 10.
  • Boston ranks highest for universities R&D spending, ahead of London and Beijing.
  • Beijing leads the index for Venture Capital Funding, followed by New York and San Francisco.
  • Beijing also tops the index for AI & Machine Learning Innovation, in front of New York and San Francisco.
  • London is the highest-ranked city for innovation in the areas of Banking & Financial Services, Fintech, and IT & Software Development.

Amsterdam, Netherlands, September, 2021 - B2B financial service platform has released a study showing the best cities in the world for business innovation. As a company that is using new technologies to improve business and the life of entrepreneurs and professionals in Europe, Finom decided to create the first Finom Innovation in Business Index to see whether certain cities are hubs for business innovation. The study splits the innovation landscape into different areas, including research and development, startup activity and funding availability, in addition to looking at innovation on an individual industry level, for example in artificial intelligence, biotechnology and fintech. The resulting index gives insight into which global cities lead the way in having ecosystems that are fertile for business innovation, and reveals which cities are global leaders for innovation in each industry.

“Being a B2B financial platform, we are quite aware that business innovation rarely happens in isolation,” comments Yakov Novikov, CEO and co-founder of Finom. “Throughout history successful innovative companies have initiated the development of a supporting ecosystem in their home town or city, for example Ferrari, which brought employment and manufacturing expertise to Modena in Italy almost a century ago. More car companies subsequently moved to the city, including Lamborghini and Maserati, attracted by its deep industry knowledge and skilled workforce. This process eventually led to the creation of the so-called “Motor Valley” in that part of Italy. The same trend continues to be seen today, with different cities leading the innovation landscape in different industries. The study shows that Boston is the leading city for biotechnology innovation, while San Francisco tops the list for green technologies innovation. These cities have significant industry know-how and a wealth of supplier companies that feed into the supply chain.”

How the study was conducted: 

Finom began by creating a shortlist of 200 cities based on their size and significance in the business world, which they narrowed down to the best scoring 100. The cities were then analysed according to two broad categories. The first category, Innovation Areas, was made up of a number of subfactors which relate to different stages of the business innovation process. The second category, Industries, looks at which cities are leading business innovation on an industry by industry level.

For the first category, the research and development spending by companies, governmental organisations and universities in each city was assessed in recognition of the central role that R&D plays in innovation in business.

Next, the industrial ecosystem in each city was assessed to gauge the contribution of industry to the local area. In particular, it looked at the employment manufacturing and engineering companies bring to each city, and whether companies in these sectors are headquartered in the cities. The tech ecosystem was then analysed to measure the diversity and maturity of this sector in each city.

Following this, the number of startups founded since 2010 that have received funding since 2015 in each city were counted in order to acknowledge how innovation in business often comes from more nimble, disruptor companies. The total venture capital funding received by companies in each city since 2010 was also included as a measurement of the local support available for innovative businesses.

For the second category, the study analysed the size of the local business ecosystem devoted to different innovative sectors, including artificial intelligence, biotechnology and green technologies, in order to capture how much different cities are dominating the growth and development of certain industries.

The resulting index provides an overview of the best global cities for innovation in business, ranked by scores and divided by country.

Please find the full and interactive table of data, along with the complete methodology here: 

Further findings and quotes from the senior management of Finom can be found at the bottom of this press release.


The table below reveals a sample of results for the 10 best scoring cities out of the 100 cities in the index. All scores are out of 100, with 100 being the highest possible score and 50 being the lowest.

The Top 10 Cities for Business Innovation:
1. San Francisco100.00
2. Beijing91.16
3. New York90.70
4. London78.48
5. Boston76.71
6. Shanghai73.23
7. Tokyo70.79
8. Paris69.07
9. Washington D.C.66.02
10. Los Angeles64.96

N.B. This is a sample of the full results, which you can find here: 

The tables below reveal a sample of results for the 10 cities with the best governmental organisations R&D scores and those with the best universities R&D scores:

Governmental Organisations R&DUniversities R&D 
1. Beijing100.001. London100.00
2. Washington D.C.86.152. Boston99.36
3. San Francisco85.733. Beijing98.96
4. New York79.144. Seoul93.94
5. Paris77.875. New York91.15
6. Seattle75.006. Singapore89.82
7. Berlin73.557. Los Angeles88.69
8. Hangzhou72.198. Sydney87.93
9. Grenoble72.199. Pittsburgh86.88
10. Los Angeles71.9110. Melbourne86.56

The following tables reveal a sample of results for the 10 cities with the best startup scores, indicating a large number of funded startups, and those with the best venture capital funding scores, indicating a higher amount of VC funding in those cities:

StartupsVenture Capital Funding
1. London100.001. Beijing100.00
2. New York95.882. New York93.22
3. San Francisco86.323. San Francisco90.36
4. Beijing75.484. Shanghai89.77
5. Tokyo67.335. London88.66
6. Paris65.956. Hangzhou82.25
7. Singapore65.477. Singapore79.21
8. Los Angeles65.168. Boston78.40
9. Toronto64.589. Tokyo78.04
10. Shanghai64.3410. Berlin77.56

The tables below reveal the 10 leading cities for artificial intelligence & machine learning innovation, and for biotechnology innovation:

AI & Machine Learning InnovationBiotechnology Innovation
1. Beijing100.001. Boston100.00
2. New York90.422. New York83.61
3. San Francisco89.503. Shanghai76.11
4. Shanghai84.324. San Francisco71.35
5. London75.605. Beijing69.46
6. Tokyo59.976. London64.61
7. Paris59.507. Toronto62.00
8. Tel Aviv59.278. San Diego58.80
9. Pittsburgh59.159. Seattle58.60
10. Singapore58.9110. Paris58.24

The tables below reveal the 10 leading cities for fintech innovation, and for IT & software development innovation:

Fintech InnovationIT & Software Development
1. London100.001. London100.00
2. New York91.742. San Francisco98.89
3. Hangzhou 86.563. New York98.87
4. San Francisco77.484. Beijing81.67
5. Beijing75.335. Tokyo68.28
6. Berlin58.996. Singapore65.63
7. Singapore58.757. Paris65.26
8. Toronto56.618. Toronto63.94
9. Chicago55.789. Shanghai63.70
10. Hong Kong55.6710. Los Angeles62.89

The raw data for each category can be provided upon request.


  1. “We wanted the study to give insight into which cities are leading innovation in different industries, not just the financial one to which we belong,” comments Finom Co-Founder and CEO Yakov Novikov. “Some of the results were expected, for example London’s dominance of fintech innovation and San Francisco’s index high score for green technologies innovation. More surprising were Beijing’s leading scores for innovation in the areas of AI & machine learning, education and mobility, which speak of significant strategic investment being made in the city. Beijing also tops the list for R&D spending by governmental organisations and venture capital funding, giving some indication of the availability of funding for local innovative companies. It is also surprising to see that the EU is lagging behind on business innovation, having only one city, Paris, in the global top 10 of our index”.
  2. “Innovation is frequently ignited by startups which use an external perspective to disrupt existing processes and industry incumbents. This is exactly what has been happening in the finance and banking sectors over recent years,” comments Finom Co-Founder and CEO Yakov Novikov. “It’s no surprise to find that the cities with the most funded startups also score strongly for venture capital funding, specifically London, New York, and San Francisco. These factors provide a useful barometer of the health of the innovation ecosystem in each city, exemplifying the conditions that need to be in place for nascent businesses to thrive. Having a robust startup culture has many knock-on benefits for cities and their residents, including increased employment opportunities, a healthier economy and the establishment of a business ecosystem that is operating at the forefront of industry change.”


Instructions for Publication:

Publishers are allowed to publish this data and graphics; we kindly ask that you give credit and link to the source: 

Spokespeople at Finom are available for interviews. If you require an exclusive quote on a particular angle, then please contact us. 

About Finom: Finom is an international innovation-driven start-up, currently providing financial services in France, Germany, and Italy. The headquarter is based in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). Finom was founded in 2019 and since then its mission has been to simplify the life of entrepreneurs and freelancers, who are the economic backbone of Europe. Finom is a 100% digital B2B financial service, designed by entrepreneurs and freelancers for the benefit of entrepreneurs and freelancers. It blends together finance management, invoicing, and banking. The start-up raised €16.8 million in investments during 2020. Its main investor is Target Global, an international investment firm headquartered in Berlin. For more information, visit

About SweetSpot PR: Based in Berlin, Sweet Spot PR is a team of creatives, journalists and data analysts who founded an agency in response to the growing challenges facing the media as the industry adapts to the digital world. The agency promotes fact-based, informative and compelling journalism by connecting data-driven journalists with excellent content from research agencies and industry patrons.