The current cycle of globalisation, urbanisation and technological advancement is leading to a shake-up of the global urban hierarchy and creating sweeping changes to the geography of commercial real estate opportunity.

In this new era of city competition, success is no longer purely about size or inherited attributes, but revolves around innovation, liveability and a city’s ability to transform and adapt to a constantly changing socio-economic landscape.

Covering 120 major established and emerging business hubs across the globe, the Index measures a city’s short-term socio-economic and commercial real estate momentum (over a three-year horizon) in combination with measures of ‘future-proofing’ – whether a city has the essential ingredients to ensure longer-term sustainable momentum.


In our latest research, we identify the characteristics of the Top 20 Cities in the City Momentum Index, many of which are building innovation-oriented economies and implementing transformative infrastructure and real estate projects that are contributing to their momentum and providing crucial competitive advantage.

Among the ‘Established World Cities’:

• London (1st) tops the CMI for a second consecutive year, as vigorous economic growth and commercial real estate fundamentals are complemented by initiatives which are transforming the city’s transport and building on its unique strengths as a global education and technology hub. The US$22 billion Crossrail project is the largest transport scheme in Europe, while new university campuses such as the US$1.5 billion campus for Imperial College London in White City, which is being planned as London’s first major research quarter, are establishing new networks between business and education.

• New York’s (7th) dynamic start-up sector is flourishing and the city is taking steps to build on its innovation economy through developments such as the new US$2 billion applied research facility on Roosevelt Island, which involves links between Cornell University, the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. New York’s momentum is also being boosted by major real estate projects such as Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side, and the city’s office market is projected to register among the highest rental uplifts of cities in the CMI over the current cycle.

• Tokyo’s (14th) momentum is growing as the 2020 Summer Olympics provides a catalyst for urban renewal. Major projects such as the redevelopment of Shibuya Station District and the planned Tokiwabashi District Redevelopment Project, adjacent to Tokyo Station, will boost the city’s standing as a global technology and financial centre. Tokyo’s high-tech sector is already a major contributor to buoyant demand for new commercial space, and the city is expected to register among the highest rates of office rental growth in 2016.

The ‘Challengers’

• Despite a slowing national economy, Sydney’s (8th) economic and real estate momentum continues to accelerate. The city is experiencing robust demand for modern, flexible commercial real estate, aided by a dynamic technology sector, and is forecast to be among the best office rental performers globally over the next year. 2015 saw the first completions at Barangaroo, a mixed-use waterfront development including a dedicated financial district, while work is beginning on the ‘Sydney Metro Northwest’ project, which will create Australia’s first fully-fledged mass rapid transit system.

• Seoul’s (19th) concentration of globally competitive firms, proactive education policy and focus on qualityoriented growth are positioning it as one of the world’s most innovative cities and providing the ingredients for sustainable long-term momentum. The number of companies among the world’s 2,000 largest firms headquartered in the city continues to grow strongly, and the US$35 billion Songdo International Business District is creating a template for smart cities around the world.

• Shanghai (6th) is embracing new opportunities as it transitions to higher-value economic activities. It is continuing to build out capacity and new city systems in areas such as Qiantan and Hongkou, which have been marked out as future commercial and financial districts, and is showing a remarkable ability to absorb new inventory with among the world’s highest levels of net absorption and lowest levels of office vacancy.

Source: City Momentum Index 2016: The Rise of the Innovation-Orientated City

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