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Discover The Future of Work

What makes a place futuristic? The interplay of fundamental elements unleashes potent, combined energies that lead to an alchemy of advancement.

In our report “21 Places of the Future”, we outline where many of these new jobs will appear. With the insight that jobs of the future often stem from unlikely places, we’ve identified 21 places around the world where the future is being built right now.

Places defining the future

The cities and towns we profile range from the large to the small, the old to the new, and the well-known to the hardly-ever-heard-of. The one thing they all have in common, though, is an appetite to create – or recreate – a future by offering humans the work of the future.

We employed a detailed methodology to select the 21 places featured in the report. Some of these places are in the western hemisphere, some in the East; some are in the southern hemisphere, but many are in the North, reflecting longstanding and inherent advantages. A few are in no hemisphere at all but are best described as “omnisphere” places, genuinely places of the future (with outsized capital flows to match).

Using the metaphor of an atom, we examined both the “nucleus” and the “electrons” of a place.

Understanding Our Atom of Success

an-atomic-methodology-for-places-of-the-future

The nucleus consists of the following three components (each of which was rated on a scale of 1–25):

  • Local government.
  • Quality of colleges and universities.
  • Access to private capital.

The electrons consist of the following eight components (each of which was rated on a scale of 1–10):

  • Physical infrastructure: Quality of airports, public transport, high-speed rail, new talent clusters.
  • Environment: Sustainability (water, CO2 emissions), recreation (urban parks, outdoor space, access to natural beauty), environmental record (pollution, land conservation, green buildings, stewardship).
  • Lifestyle: Diversity & inclusion (women’s rights/education, racial D&I, LGBTQ+ rights, accessibility, etc.), income equality, commute time, education levels, “happiness” levels.
  • Culture & entertainment: Restaurants and bars, music and arts, creative zeitgeist/buzz, sports (such as hosting the World Cup, Olympics, Super Bowl, etc.).
  • “Bricks:” Architectural heritage, new construction vs. reviving and restoring old buildings and architecture, prevalence of buildings designed by celebrity architects.
  • “Clicks:” Robustness of digital infrastructure, public WiFi, broadband infrastructure, cellular data coverage, number of tech companies, relative number of new tech startups.
  • Talent pools: Reliance on professional management, quantity and quality of education, country capacity to attract talent, cooperation in labor-employer relations.
  • Affordability: Cost of living, consumer price index.

Starting with a list of over 150 places, we used data from sources such as the World Economic Forum, World Justice Project and ESI ThoughtLab to tally a final score for 75 of them (Note: For many places, it was not possible to create a final score as the data collected was incomplete, contradictory or skewed in clearly biased ways – local tourist information as one example).

The core nucleus was weighted more heavily than the electrons, with the logic that when these three components are well-established, a place stands a greater chance of attracting the other elements needed to create positive momentum. In an atom, for super-charged electrons to rotate, a strong core nucleus is required. Similarly, without the rule of law, talent and capital as foundational building blocks, a place’s chances to succeed are greatly reduced.

So, in the end, what is it that makes a place a place of the future? The answer: a fundamental belief, widely distributed among the brokers of local power, in the promise of tomorrow, not a longing for the glories of yesteryear. Specifically, belief in:

  • The centricity of technology.
  • Openness – to ideas, to people, to culture, to experimentation, to failure, to the future.
  • A balance between the vested interests of the “incumbent” and the “disruptor.”
  • Education.

The locations we feature in 21 Places of the Future are all very different and have different strengths and weaknesses. To imagine that there is one formula that all 7.8 billion of us should adhere to, wherever it is we live, is clearly nonsensical. But these four beliefs are at the core of what gives a place a future. Mixing them wisely and judiciously will see your place flourish in the challenges and opportunities ahead.

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