Honolulu, Hawaii & New York, New York – January 23, 2013 – The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named the 2013 Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year. The Top7 list includes three from North America, two from Taiwan and two from Europe. “The Top7 communities of 2013 have made innovation – based on information and communications technology –the cornerstone of their economies and fostered economic growth through high-quality employment, while increasing the quality of life of their citizens,” said Lou Zacharilla , ICF co-founder in announcing the list at the Pacific Telecommunications Council’s annual conference (PTC’13) in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.
The Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year
The following communities, drawn from the Smart21 of 2013, were named to the Top7 Intelligent Communities of 2013 based on analysis of their nominations by a team of independent academic experts:
Columbus OH, USA: With an economically and racially diverse population, the city trails the US average in terms of per capita income, but has America’s highest concentration of Fortune 1000 companies per capita.
The city has led in job creation over the past decade,, adding 15,000 net new jobs while much of the rest of the state has struggled with industrial decline and home foreclosures.
Being the state capital has helped, but the success of Columbus has been forged through collaboration among city government, academic institutions, businesses and nonprofits.
Government has reduced spending in the recession but also raised taxes to fund development. That includes investments in workforce development to meet the needs of advanced manufacturing, logistics and information technology companies.
Business and institutional leaders have created nonprofits that engage in downtown development, education, healthcare and cultural projects.
Columbus has traditionally struggled to commercialize technologies created in its schools and universities, but a public-private venture called TechColumbus is working effectively to leverage the region’s research and technology assets into startup companies.
Ohio State University has re-energized its technology transfer office and holds monthly forms for entrepreneurs, while joining forces with Ohio University to create a venture capital fund.
Manufacturing remains challenged: regional employment in that sector declined 30% from 2001 to 2011. But manufacturing productivity has increased 43% per employee and the region is seeing a dramatic rise in job openings for advanced manufacturing, automation, electronics, robotics and industrial design.
Columbus is also reaching out to neighboring municipalities, including Top7 Dublin, to collaborate on building a broadband ecosystem serving the entire region.
Having added 29,000 new jobs from 2010 to 2012, the Columbus metro region is one of few old industrial regions to reverse a “brain drain” and show net in-migration for the first time in decades.
Oulu, Finland: The mobile communications business has been good to Oulu, and the mobile business has become a threat to its future. The “Nokia risk” as Oulu’s leaders called it, materialized in the new century as the company failed to adapt to the rise of the smartphone. Yet Oulu has created 18,000 new high-tech jobs since 2007, thanks to a decades-old culture of public-private collaboration and its many high-quality educational institutions.
Stratford, Ontario, Canada: At the turn of the new century, Stratford had a reputation for being quaint, cultured and out of the way, home to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and a 90-minute drive from Toronto, the business capital of eastern Canada. Strategic planning, beginning in 1997, has focused on preserving Stratford’s enviable quality of life while leveraging ICT to transform its economy.
Taichung City, Taiwan: When the city and county of Taichung merged in 2010, it created a huge metropolis uniting completely different economies: a major seaport city where 70% of employees work in services, and a rural county where 50% work in industry and agriculture is a significant source of income. The city’s leadership, under Mayor Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, was determined to create a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.
Tallinn, Estonia: Estonia saw a major boom from 2004 to 2007, as loan capital poured in from Scandinavian countries. But when the financial crisis came, it hit Estonia and its principal city of Tallinn very hard. Yet beneath the froth, Tallinn has put into place the foundations of ICT-based growth that is generating a strong comeback.
Taoyuan County, Taiwan: Home to the international airport serving Taipei, Taoyuan County is an industrial powerhouse, with more than 24 industrial parks, 44,000 companies and 10,000 factories. The county is also home to 15 colleges and universities, which graduate 25,000 students every year. To upgrade the skills of traditional industrial workers and the unemployed, it offers vocational training as well as a range of digital literacy programs for all ages.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Canada’s largest city and financial capital, as well as the political capital of the Province of Ontario, Toronto is one of the world’s more successful places. But it is also challenged to maintain its edge. The city, provincial and Federal governments are addressing these challenges with a development strategy stressing ICT, environmental sustainability and innovation. A key component is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project.