Boston, Palo Alto, Berlin, Shenzen, Beijing, and the Oxford/Cambridge/London triangle. In today’s world– and even more so in tomorrow’s– it’s the big international cities with strong innovative vocations that are emerging as the engines of global growth (and who also have the extraordinary capacity to grow much more than their respective countries).
This happens via the sum of a unique mix, that starts from the mere question of relationships among the millions of inhabitants and the frequency of their interactions, which lowers the cost of services and increases their diffusion. The melange is fueled daily by the presence of the best universities and the most innovative ecosystems on the planet. And it’s completed because these enormous agglomerations represent the most ideal locations for the intersection of races, religions, philosophies, discussions, and political orientations in which experiences converge, ideas are born, develop, and grow.
Especially, innovation finds the most fertile terrain in these cities, resulting from the society’s collective orientation rather than the fruit of a single individual or a discrete group of innovators. It’s the combination of solutions coming from different cultures, between elements of the past and emergent needs that generate competitiveness through a greater sharing of knowledge, culture, and talent.
The cities that I cited above have the rare ability to plan their growth, and they represent the exceptions with respect to other large cities that allow themselves to be overwhelmed by their extra-large dimensions, like the favelas in Brazil, or Jakarta where the urban infrastructure is completely insufficient and the unmanageable traffic is always paralyzed, or like the many huge cities around the world with hundred of thousands of inhabitants that can’t interact, that aren’t making the most of their potential and therefore represent a burden on society, recipients of unproductive welfare.
Therefore, being a large city is not enough. Just like it’s not enough to be a resident of one of these cities, because you need to get used to their way of life, take advantage of their services, and be open when it comes to immigration, and therefore be mentally willing and able to adapt to the flux of masses of people.
What about the immigrants, you might ask?
In reality, immigration is an important part of human development. History proves this. Analyzing immigration doesn’t only mean looking at its problems, but also attempting to optimize it to resolve its problems for an improved socio-economic construct. We see immigrants and treat them as if they were drains on society rather than “goods.” In trying to reduce their quantity, we forget about their added value and the fact that they can contribute to growth and development for a better society from all perspectives.
Also, immigration is part of the global culture. Rural areas become industrialized and cultivate new citizens, and all of us– every day– migrate from our homes, convictions, and knowledge. So, over the centuries, the phenomenon of immigration toward cities reveals the capacities of these new inhabitants to adapt to new realities, contributing without any issues to their productivity. This is an epochal trend that we’re all aware of that can be applied to many other modern migrations.