PwC's 'Cities of opportunity' index ranks the top 26 cities that tick the most boxes in the finance and lifestyle categories. And there are a few surprises in this ranking: New York reigns supreme as a business hub, natch, but London has seen a significant fall in popularity, dropping to sixth place, down three places from last year's hotlist.
One interesting point about his ranking is the impressive performance of cities that are more notable for quality of life than global business dominance: Toronto, Stockholm and Sydney take the second, third and fifth spot, respectively.
But, flying the flag for entrepreneurial brilliance, San Francisco, home of Silicon Valley, the start-up centre of the US, also rides high in fourth place.
These dark horses in the running cannot match the size or economic clout of longstanding commercial hubs like London, New York, Paris or Tokyo, yet their high ranking highlights a changing global dynamic. Modern cities are simply less dependent on geography and historic connections in this globalised, technologically-savvy world.
"Changes in communications, education and knowledge-sharing, transportation and urban migration are transforming world dynamics," says Bob Moritz, US chairman of PwC. "Cities that want to thrive need to adapt to these changes. Size is no longer a leading predictor of influence. The success of cities such as Toronto, San Francisco, Stockholm and Sydney sends a clear signal that holistic balance makes a real difference."
The traditional alpha cities: London (number six this year and first in economic clout); Paris, (number eight overall and first in transportation and infrastructure); and Tokyo, (number 14 overall) retain their power and allure. But they do not congregate at the top. New York, despite finishing first, hardly dominates. It leads because of balanced performance across the indicators, a key to the city's continued economic resilience and outstanding performance in intellectual capital, lifestyle assets and technology readiness.
The Cities of Opportunity key indicators and top three cities in each are:
Intellectual capital and innovation--Stockholm, Toronto, New York/San Francisco (tied for 3rd)
Technology readiness--New York, Seoul, Stockholm
Transportation and infrastructure--Paris, Chicago, New York
Demographics and livability--Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto
Economic clout--London, Paris, New York
Cost--Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago
Lifestyle assets--New York, Paris, London
Health, safety and security--Stockholm, Toronto, Chicago
Ease of doing business--Hong Kong, Singapore, New York
Sustainability--Berlin, Sydney, Stockholm
To see the complete list, and find out more about the research behind the findings, check out the Cities of Opportunity whitepaper on the PwC website.