Cities, Business & Capital

Businesses all over the world are becoming more engaged with cities.

For many, cities are the growth markets that are home to the urban talent and consumers who buy their products, services, or experiences, or are employed in their competitive firms. For others, cities are the complex systems they run and manage, or places with high-performing assets to own and invest. The right cities also help companies achieve an innovation or brand edge, or are the customers to whom they sell their core services and expertise.

The metropolitan century calls for businesses to have decisive city strategies. We help guide global businesses and capital investors to do this.

The Services We Provide

  1. Analysis and benchmarking about the cities that can help firms optimise growth and market penetration.
  2. Organisational Strategy and Reform - We help companies and institutions develop their urban strategies and enhance their cities' divisions.
  3. Insight on the Global Trends - We pinpoint the drivers that influence the success and risks of cities through different economic and political cycles, and the ingredients that help investors achieve short-term and long-term returns in cities.
  4. Advice on Cities' 'Fit' with Business and Investment Aims - We offer applied insight into the governance, institutional and spatial frameworks in cities and regions, and their potential 'fit' as partners, clients or customers.
  5. Corporate Brand Opportunities with Cities - We help teams to identify the brand advantages and leverage of operating in, partnering with, or relocating to certain cities.
  6. Executive Education on Working with Cities - We deliver customised courses to help global companies optimise how their staff work effectively with city leaders and decision-makers.

1. Analysis and Benchmarking

We provide companies with bespoke benchmarking services to help them assess the comparative performance of cities around the world. Our database of benchmarks and in-house data tracks city performance in more than 30 performance criteria, including growth trajectory, innovation and diversification, liveability, density, sustainability, governance, leadership and growth management. We go beyond the usual metrics to help companies make more informed long-term decisions. We also help businesses and investors to develop their own city benchmarking tools and to develop their own indexes for PR and client engagement purposes.

2. Organisational Strategy and Reform

We provide neutral guidance to senior leaders as they scan the horizon of opportunities for their organisation, distil the key imperatives, develop scenarios, and appraise possible future approaches.

This support can include visits to your senior international decision-making teams to listen and assess the strategic dilemmas, develop options and alternatives, evaluate what is needed, create consensus, and design appropriate governance or delivery mechanisms where required. We provide many types of short-term and long-term support according to what is required.

4. Advice about Cities' 'Fit' with Business and Investment Aims

We draw on our knowledge and real-time insight of governance, institutional and spatial frameworks in more than 200 cities and regions, to help businesses assess the potential 'fit' of a city or group of cities as prospective partners, customers or investment locations. We pay close attention to changes in leadership and regulatory environment, performance trends, relationships with higher tiers of government, sector mix, and growth capacity. These insights provide our clients with an important additional lens to inform and support their business decisions.

5. Corporate Brand Opportunities in Cities

We help businesses to develop their brand story in relation to global urbanisation, and to build effective partnerships and projects to help communicate that story.

6. Executive Education for Working with Cities

We deliver a wide range of customised courses to global companies. These typically consist of 0.5 day up to 2 day formats, comprising bitesize presentations and deep dive workshops and case study scenarios, and are designed to equip and inspire staff to work more effectively with city decision-makers and with each other. We provide these services across all levels of experience within a firm, and topics span all the way from high level global city trends down to specific skills of stakeholder engagement, negotiation, pitching and alliance building.

Which Businesses and Institutions have we Advised?

We have worked with businesses in various different sectors, including:

  • Advanced urban services firms such as Arup,
  • Property and real estate management companies such as JLL and Grosvenor,
  • Major technology providers such as Siemens, Microsoft and Capgemini,
  • International financial institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank and European Investment Bank,
  • Multi-national banks such as JP Morgan,
  • Figital and sharing economy firms such as Airbnb.

Read our UN-Habitat Chapter on Real Estate Investment in Cities

We contributed to the UN-Habitat's handbook on City Finance and Investment

Our book

The Business of Cities: How Corporates and Capital are Re-Urbanising Our World will be published in 2021 by Routledge. This book provides the first comprehensive account of how and why businesses are re-engaging with cities in the 21st centry. It features many detailed examples of how the world's top companies are practically adjusting to the opportunities and imperatives of global urbanisation.