Who we are

Leading Cities, an international nonprofit organization, is a global leader in Smart City solutions, city diplomacy, and collaboration advancing sustainability and resilient city strategies and technologies to improve the quality of life in cities around the world. With its global network of world-class cities, Leading Cities has built tools and bridges to share best practices, solutions and lessons learned among city leaders while breaking down barriers within cities by engaging each of the five sectors of the Quintuple-helix (Q-helix): Public, Private, Non-profit, Academia and Citizenry.

Leading Cities’ has developed a 7 Pillar Smart Ecosystem with activities to support the advancement of Smart City solutions.

History and Overview

The 21st century has arrived and with it came continuing urban challenges facing cities around the world. These cities are facing exponential growth not just in population, but in the intensity of complex urban issues threatening the existence of safe, affordable, and supportive neighborhoods. The 21st century has also brought exponential advancements in technology that effectively eliminate the challenges that physical distance once posed and replaces them with opportunities for connectivity and sharing in the digital age. With this burgeoning confluence of technology and commitment to addressing urban issues, Leading Cities seeks to unite university faculty and students, policy innovators, city officials, startups, and business leaders in the common cause of solving urban challenges. This is achieved through sharing, improving and adapting best practices as well as facilitating economic and business development opportunities. The virtual world has dismantled borders and has made possible this unification and development of partnerships and policy innovations, thus realizing our mantra to create “global impact on the local level.”

Meeting with President Clinton & Prime Minister Kenny

Leading Cities CEO Mike Lake speaks with former President Bill Clinton and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny during the 2013 Exchange Mission in Dublin – October 2013

According to the Global Leaders Survey, 96% of leaders around the world have agreed that urban challenges are common between cities, irrespective of geography, and they acknowledged that their cities would directly benefit from the sharing of information among cities. Unfortunately, this same group of global leaders recognized that nine out of ten of them did not feel knowledgeable about what other cities were doing to solve these challenges. This recognition of lost opportunity and duplication of efforts and mistakes as well as delays in improving the quality of life for citizens is precisely what Leading Cities will address in its collaborative model of economic and social change. Strong economies support strong communities – the “Q-Helix” of private, public, non-profit, academic and civic leaders all have a stake in the effective progress of their community

The development of Leading Cities was inspired by the work originally designed and launched as World Class Cities Partnership in 2008 as a network of municipal governments and universities dedicated to researching and implementing identified best practices in urban policy. Leading Cities has grown beyond just applied research, it is a dynamic results-oriented organization with three distinct dimensions: a collaborative global research and knowledge exchange platform, a facilitator of business and economic development opportunities and a builder of bridges linking governments for cooperative partnerships and innovative solutions. Dublin Summit

Leading Cities is designed to harness the power of a network of leaders around the world, united by common environments and challenges despite their vast differences in location, language, culture, and tradition. Since our launch, we have achieved several remarkable outcomes, from brokering international trade agreements and strengthening entrepreneurship ecosystems to publishing high impact research reports, such as Talent Magnets, which examined talent attraction and retention strategies for cities.

For more about our organization:

  1. Board of Directors
  2. Global Advisory Board