Why Some Counties Are Powerhouses for Innovation

Of the ten U.S. counties granted the most patents between 2000 and 2015, six were in California.. (image source: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND; data/analysis source: U.S. Patent Office/Christopher Boone, Arizona State University)

Of the ten U.S. counties granted the most patents between 2000 and 2015, six were in California.. (image source: The Conversation, CC-BY-ND; data/analysis source: U.S. Patent Office/Christopher Boone, Arizona State University)

April 10, 2019 | Source: The Conversation, theconversation.com, Christopher Boone, 19 March 2019

By the time the application window closed, Amazon had received 238 proposals from cities and regions throughout North America looking to become the second headquarters of the behemoth tech company.

Amazon invited proposals especially from places that looked a lot like its native Seattle: metro areas with more than a million people; a stable and business-friendly environment; communities that could “think big and creatively” about real estate options; and a location that would attract and retain technical talent.

In the race to attract high-tech companies, what can cities and regions do to become centers of innovation? At the moment, some places are clearly in the lead.

By my analysis of data from the U.S. Patent Office, Santa Clara County, California, is sprinting ahead of the country. Between 2000 and 2015, more than 140,000 patents were granted in Santa Clara County. That’s triple the number for second-ranked San Diego County.  [The average for all U.S. counties is only 524.]

Four other counties in California -- Los Angeles, San Mateo, Alameda and Orange -- make the top 10. Washington’s King County, Massachusetts’s Middlesex County, Michigan’s Oakland County and Arizona’s Maricopa County round out the list.