San Francisco Ranks Fifth Worldwide in PwC's Cities of Opportunity Study of Global Centers for Business, Finance and Culture

London posts the highest score; New York takes second

Competition for talent, capital and economic clout drives cities to build and maintain resilient urban communities

May 19, 2014, 11:00 ET from PwC US

SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- San Francisco ranks fifth worldwide, up one place since 2012, among the 30 global cities studied by PwC US in the sixth edition of its Cities of Opportunity report, released today. Rated second among American cities, San Francisco received high marks in intellectual capital, innovation, demographics, liveability and sustainability.

According to the latest study, San Francisco advanced one spot in the intellectual capital and innovation indicator to take third place. Its strong reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship is reflected in its number one ranking in entrepreneurial environment, overtaking Stockholm in that spot, and its second place finish in the 2thinknow Innovation Cities™ index. The city also received high marks in demographics and liveability, ranking the third most desirable place to live — well ahead of other leading U.S. cities in the study including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In regards to sustainability, San Francisco excelled in variables including recycled waste, air pollution and public park spaces, ranking just below global environmentally-friendly frontrunners such as Stockholm, Sydney, Berlin and Paris.

The city also improved significantly this year in both cost and economic clout, finishing sixth in cost, an increase of seven places, and seventh in economic clout, a shift up of nine places from 2012. Ranked highly in variables including productivity, purchasing power and financial and business services employment, these marks confirm San Francisco both as a current global economic player and a market for continued financial growth and opportunities.

"San Francisco holds a dominant position as a global capital for business and culture as the city continues to make substantial gains in intellectual capital, innovation, demographics, liveability and sustainability," said Jim Henry, Managing Partner of PwC's San Francisco market. "San Francisco's high ranking for sustainability correlates to our firm's local green initiatives, and its impressive rating in intellectual capital and innovation is no surprise with the explosive growth in funding for emerging companies and the growing influence of technology across all business sectors. We're also pleased that the Bay Area's ratings for safety and the health of our community were the highest among US cities. We believe San Francisco is an exciting and desirable place for young professionals and we look forward to working with local businesses and community members to continue to find ways to attract people and businesses to the high quality of life here in the greater Bay Area."

The Cities of Opportunity key indicators and top three cities within each are:

  • Intellectual capital and innovation: Paris, London, San Francisco
  • Technology readiness: London and Seoul (tied for first place), Stockholm
  • City gateway: London, Beijing, Singapore
  • Transportation and infrastructure: Singapore, Toronto, Buenos Aires and Seoul (tied for third)
  • Health, safety and security: Stockholm, Sydney and Toronto (tied for second)
  • Sustainability and the natural environment: Stockholm and Sydney (tied for first), Paris and Berlin (tied for third)
  • Demographics and liveability: Sydney, London, San Francisco
  • Economic clout: London, Beijing, New York
  • Ease of doing business: Singapore, Hong Kong, New York
  • Cost: Los Angeles, Chicago, Johannesburg

The full report is available at The site also features in-depth video interviews with leaders including Bob Moritz, PwC's US Chairman and Senior Partner, Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT's center for digital business, and Ulla Hamilton, Deputy Mayor of Stockholm for entrepreneurism.

Cities of Opportunity 6: We, the urban people
In June, PwC will release Cities of Opportunity 6: We, the urban people, which will include findings from a global survey of 15,000 PwC professional staff—comprised of an average of 20 percent of staff in each of the 30 cities. The study,  which was used to enrich the data of the main Cities of Opportunity 6 report, will provide an in-depth look at demographics and quality of urban life, including responses on commuting, urban priorities, likelihood of remaining in the city, preferences for relocation, and spending patterns, among other revealing points.

Cities of Opportunity is based on publicly available data, using three main sources: global multilateral development organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; national statistics organizations, such as National Statistics in the UK and the Census Bureau in the US; and commercial data providers. The data was collected during the third and fourth quarters of 2013. Besides adding Jakarta, Nairobi, and Rio de Janeiro to the study, PwC also replaced Abu Dhabi with Dubai, which brought the study to 30 cities total, the largest to date. The scoring methodology was developed to facilitate transparency and simplicity for readers, as well as comparability across cities.

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