Where the Innovators Are

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Start-Up NationPatent data is a rough but imperfect proxy for innovation; patents are often owned by large corporations or universities rather than individual inventors. But regional patent data does point toward areas of high intellectual productivity, and it's safe to assume that some of those patents flow from start-up companies. 

patent_dens_UPDATED jjg.jpg

Last year, I took a look at some of the subtler patterns that patents reveal. The map above is based on a measure of innovation density, which we calculate as patents per square kilometer.

The median density of innovation is .008 patents per square kilometer. The densest metros have more than .4 patents per square kilometer, while the least dense have fewer than .001 ....

It's not surprising that San Jose (Silicon Valley) tops the list with .831 patents per square kilometer or that nearby San Francisco is second with .446 patents per square kilometer. Los Angeles is third with .41 patents per square kilometer, followed by Trenton, Bridgeport-Stamford, Connecticut, Greater Boston, Boulder, Greater New York, Ann Arbor, and New Haven.

The density of patents is closely associated with key regional economic outcomes such as regional wages (.668), regional incomes (.588), and regional economic output (.459). (As usual, I point out that these correlations only suggestion associations between variables. They do not specify any causation or make any claims about the direction of causality. Other intervening variables may come into play).

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Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here
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