It is now six years since the Oslo region launched its brand strategy and since The Business of Cities began systematically benchmarking Oslo’s progress on the global stage.
These annual ‘outside-in’ reviews provide a window into how the world sees Oslo, and how its strengths and reputation compare to other high-performing cities on the international stage.
In 2021 we continue to track Oslo’s performance and progress across the widest possible set of more than 750 global benchmarks, rankings and comparative studies. Tracking Oslo's aggregate performance across all benchmarks remains more effective than simply looking at a few indexes. It helps to capture the big picture about how Oslo is performing and how it is perceived by investors, residents, entrepreneurs and visitors, amongst its real peer group of cities internationally. This year, we have again tracked Oslo’s progress in objective indicators and in subjective perception studies, to illuminate the differences between perception and reality.
The last 12 months have seen so much global travel and face-to-face exchange on hold. Nevertheless benchmarks, rankings and other comparative studies of cities continue to shape the global imagination. Global benchmarks shape the intuitions and decisions of businesses and investors, and their audience visibility, particularly in a hybrid world, means they inform the decisions and appetites about which cities to visit, invest in, or consider moving to after the pandemic subsides.
Figure 1: New areas of post-Covid focus in the global studies and benchmarks
Global attention has been turning to questions of how well cities protect wellbeing, how well their whole regions work, and how prepared they are for the future of jobs, lifestyle and climate change. Studies of the softer factors that make up cities' overall brand and story - such as governance, values and healthy living - loom larger than ever before (see Figure 1).
Oslo's status as a city with a faster pace of growth, change and diversification is helping it to emerge from Covid-19 as a special sort of European city. Unlike others, Oslo is still rapidly urbanising. Its shift from commodity-based economic sectors to metropolitan tradeable sectors is still ongoing. It is also upgrading its city systems and assets faster as it heads towards a 2 million person region. This puts Oslo in contrast to other cities where the change drivers are fewer and where the aim will be to tweak existing systems.
How is Oslo regarded for its capability to build companies and its access to specialist skills?
What is the day-to-day physical experience like in Oslo, of working, living and travelling in the region?
The work also includes special features on Oslo's readiness for the hybrid future and a deep dive on the region's attractiveness to talent - both areas that require renewed attention in the year ahead.
As we have updated the underlying framework for assessing the state of Oslo, this report does not evaluate how Oslo’s position has changed year-on-year across the different areas of competitiveness. This will return in future based on the new baseline 2021 data.
As in previous years, we detail Oslo’s position in each theme along a 10-point scale, calculated by an algorithm based on all the input benchmarks. Where there are sufficient indicators in both the performance and perception categories, Oslo’s position is shown twice to reflect how performance and perception compare. The scale is explained in more detail in the appendix.
The State of the City report continues to benchmark Oslo among a peer group of 50 regions that are all: medium-sized, upper income, high quality of life, and globally connected.