Science Cities: Driving Urban Economies and Benefiting Rural Communities

The presence of universities and research institutes in urban areas is a critical factor in driving economic growth. These institutions provide access to a pool of talented researchers, proximity to other scientific institutions, and industry connections, all of which contribute to the development of cities. As a result, many of the world’s largest cities have emerged as leaders in scientific research output, according to the Nature Index.

Beijing, China’s capital city, leads the list of leading Science Cities based on research output in 2022, with its research institutions scoring a Share of 3,735 for publications in the 82 natural-science journals tracked by the database. Other major urban centers such as New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, Seoul, and London also feature prominently in the top 20.

Despite the clear benefits that science brings to urban areas and their populations, there are concerns about how it can benefit communities living far from cities. Some argue that urbanization can exacerbate existing tensions between rural and urban populations and contribute to national political trends such as populism. However, this supplement highlights projects where science has had a meaningful impact on rural communities.

From rooftop solar panels providing clean energy to Chinese villages to research-backed interventions improving the health of rural immigrant and Indigenous populations in the United States, scientists have shown that they can make a tangible difference in people’s lives outside of cities. These examples demonstrate that science has the potential to bring crucial progress and benefits to rural communities while reducing any resentment between people living in cities and elsewhere.

This supplement acknowledges financial support from various organizations such as the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission and Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park in producing this supplement. As always, Nature retains sole responsibility for all editorial content.

By Editor

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