It is well known that the world is urbanising and cities are globalising. But there is another trend which has been quietly developing in parallel, and has received significantly less attention: Global business is urbanizing.
In a literal sense, businesses are urbanising by moving their operations into central city districts. But global firms are also putting cities at the very top of their agendas. They are developing city-branded services and offerings, like IBM’s SmarterCities initiative or Citibank’s Citi for Cities brand, and are also financing urban research and playing a part in driving urban policy.
Corporate focus on cities is logical – cities are big business and are getting bigger. Growing markets in urban services, lifestyle and asset capitalization are ripe for exploitation. Problems for cities present opportunities for businesses to innovate. A UK Government report published in October 2013 estimates that the global Smart Cities market will be worth $400 billion by 2020. Cities are also useful to businesses as a branding tool, as a means of fulfilling CSR imperatives, or as an organising principle around which they can arrange other offerings, in climate change, sustainability, competitiveness, infrastructure, logistics and place-making.
The Business of Cities advises corporations on how to become ‘city-smart’ and works with cities to analyse, understand and embrace this latest urban trend.