Six cities at the forefront of urban transformation

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Times are changing in the global urban hierarchy. We explore six European cities at the forefront of urban transformation.


Six cities at the forefront of urban transformation
Smaller cities, such as Dublin and Frankfurt, are now competing with the traditional economic heavyweights. According to JLL these so-called ‘New World Cities’ are typically mid-sized, they have strong technology credentials, are highly liveable with favourable infrastructure. With smart, sustainable and resilient urban growth models, these six cities attract talent, businesses and a disproportionate share of global real estate investment.

With a young and highly educated workforce and world-leading clusters in high technology industries, Oslo is a small but highly sought-after market. Oslo’s housing market grew at a whopping 23.3 percent in 2016, while its recent airport expansion achieved the world’s first BREEAM ‘Excellent’ sustainability rating for an airport building. With its impressive sustainability record, Oslo is a finalist for becoming the European Green Capital 2019.

Basking in Bavaria’s favourable business and political landscape, Munich boasts an unmatched combination of industry, universities, and technical expertise. It is Europe’s hub for the so-called “Internet of Things”, hosting among others the global headquarters for IBM Watson IoT, Volkswagen’s first Data Lab, and the EMEA headquarters of Japan’s Kii – a leading IoT cloud platform provider. And, for the cherry on the cake, Munich comes fourth in Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living rankings.

Edinburgh is an established hotspot for overseas investors. It has earned the title of the UK’s most educated city, with around 55 percent of the population holding a university degree or equivalent. It has also been named as the best city in the UK to launch a start-up, and is one of the world’s most reputable cities, ahead of the likes of Paris, London and New York, according to the Reputation Institute.

At seventh place in Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living rankings, Frankfurt is a great place to live, with good education, thriving industry, and great transport links. Apart from its home-grown banks, Frankfurt is home to outposts from a throng of international big hitters, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup – and is expected to become London’s economic gateway to the European Union following Brexit.

A small capital with a huge reputation, Dublin is reputed for its mix of heritage and fun. It is predicted to be a beneficiary of Brexit and is also regularly ranked as one of Europe’s most attractive cities for property development and investment, having generated €4 billion of real estate activity in the 12 months to the end of September 2016.

Denmark’s fair capital city is well known for its quality of life and impressive pool of talent, earning it ninth place in the Mercer Quality of Living Survey. In 2016 it was ranked 10th most reputable city in the world by the City RepTrak® survey, for its economic, political and environmental standing. It has a goal to become CO2 neutral by 2025 – indeed, for a city that established its first car-free zones in the ‘60s, innovative urban planning is par for the course.

With highly skilled talent pools, top-class infrastructure and attractive liveability platforms, we can expect cities like these to become increasingly difficult to overlook.

Article written by Emilija Emma, a consultant within JLL’s Upstream Sustainability Services team.

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