London has claimed the global top spot as a centre for business, finance and culture, in PwC’s sixth annual Cities of Opportunity index of 30 major international cities. This is the first time ever the UK capital has held the title, it is also the only city to finish first in three indictors.
Cities of Opportunity analysed a range of factors across 30 global cities and concluded that London’s economic clout, reputation as an urban gateway, technology access, and development and design capabilities resulted in their strong performance across a range of indicators, measuring how major international cities are developing.
Reinforcing London’s growing reputation as a tech hub, the report finds the city is technologically giving an excellent performance leaping from eighth place in last year’s report to joint first with Seoul for technology readiness this year.
The UK capital finishes a narrow second to Paris in intellectual capital and innovation, up on last year’s performance, with strong performance in the number of people in higher education, the quality of universities, and access to libraries. Only Sydney beats the capital for demographics and livability, both key areas for future urban prosperity assessed in the report.
In addition to these figures London gets top ranking for software and multimedia development and design. Plus it also finishes second overall for broadband quality, taking it up 12 places on last year, and ranking behind only Singapore and Seoul for internet access in schools.
The report comes at the same time as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) warned that London’s property prices had soared by more than twice the UK average, growing by 17 percent in the year up until March 2014.
Nevertheless looking towards house prices London’s is very high, with a deposit averaging at £60k for first time buyers in London. This means it can be difficult for many people to purchase a house. It has resulted in two-thirds of first time buyers having to ask their parents or family members to help them.
Surprisingly, London’s house price rise can be partly contributed to some world issues. Research by Cristian Badarinza and Tarun Ramadorai, economists at the University of Oxford, finds that countries that have violence and economic issues across the world in correlation with hotspots in local London property markets. When the Greek economy went into a deep recession, for example, areas of London with a higher proportion of Greek residents saw a measurable pick-up in demand.
Some experts believe that the UK as a business should be improved, however, the UK sits at the centre of East and West, which makes it ideal for servicing a global client base. It is also uniquely placed to bridge the US and Europe, which is why so many US companies enter the European market via a British office.
The conditions for entrepreneurship are extremely encouraging; with some great incentives such as the EIS and SEIS schemes making it tax efficient for early stage investors to support new ventures.
In recent years, progress has been made by cities such as Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol. Within these cities with extraordinary potential and they have developed to offer a fantastic mix of creativity, technology, academic institutions and capital.
British universities are just one example of where talent and innovation are both diverse and evenly spread. The discovery of grapheme at the University of Manchester represents one of the most significant British inventions of the last decade. Also, in Cambridge’s Silicon Fen there is a tech cluster that matches the capital’s own Tech City, for all the official support and investment offered by the government.
It could be suggested that some British cities could do a better job of demonstrating their uniqueness and what they can offer. Manchester has worked hard to improve its credentials as a media centre in recent years, while Liverpool is fast building a reputation as the business capital of the north.
What would you suggest other cities in the UK could learn from London providing better opportunities?