The Top Ten Most Inventive Cities and Metropolitan Areas

In the Magazine
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Did you know that the majority of U.S. patents—63 percent—are developed by people living in just 20 metro areas, home to only 34 percent of the U.S. population? While it’s no surprise to see Silicon Valley topping the list of where innovators and inventors choose to call home, other lesser-known cities are punching above their weight to meet the demands of a new economy. Ski-friendly Burlington, Vermont, and university town Ann Arbor, Michigan, have transformed into hubs of creativity by capitalizing on local assets—semiconductor devices and motor parts, respectively. Drawn from a Brookings Institution report, the list below is a snapshot of the 10 most patent-intensive metro areas in the country between 2007 and 2011. And the research bears out a correlation between patents filed and economic growth; innovation may just be the key to leveling the bicoastal playing field of important and influential metros.


  1. San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, CA
    Avg. Patents*: 9,237
    Patent Intensity**: 10.29

  2. Burlington–South Burlington, VT
    Avg. Patents: 826
    Patent Intensity: 6.86

  3. Rochester, MN
    Avg. Patents: 606
    Patent Intensity: 5.70

  4. Corvallis, OR
    Avg. Patents: 194
    Patent Intensity: 4.83

  5. Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, N.Y.
    Avg. Patents: 1,226
    Patent Intensity: 4.70

  6. Boulder, CO
    Avg. Patents: 666
    Patent Intensity: 4.04

  7. San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont, CA
    Avg. Patents: 7,003
    Patent Intensity: 3.59

  8. Santa Cruz–Watsonville, CA
    Avg. Patents: 310
    Patent Intensity: 3.20

  9. Austin–Round Rock–San Marcos, TX
    Avg. Patents: 2,497
    Patent Intensity: 3.09

  10. Ann Arbor, MI
    Avg. Patents: 590
    Patent Intensity: 2.93

*Averaged over 2007 to 2011.

**Patents per thousand workers, annual average between 2007 and 2011.

For more, read The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy, by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley. Brookings Institution Press, $29.95.

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