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  November 3rd, 2014 | Written by


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Austin, Texas

Population: 843,000
Unemployment: 4.60%
Top University: University of Texas at Austin

Austin recently hired its first Chief Innovation Officer, tasked with getting city departments to work with one another and to forge relationships between the city government and the university, businesses and technology communities. Austin is already a hotbed of innovation, producing more patents than any city except San Jose. IBM generates many patents from its Austin innovation center; AT&T recently announced it would establish a similar facility in Austin.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Population: 305,215
Unemployment Rate:5.40%
Top University: Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi hosts the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center, which takes new companies from their pre-incubation stage to ultimate market success. Center clients receive rental space with flexible leases; shared business networks, services and equipment; technology support services; and Ph.D.-level business and finance mentoring. The center had 30 clients in early 2014, 22 of which were in manufacturing. Revenues from innovation center companies reached nearly $5 million in 2013.

Houston, Texas

Population: 2,162,000
Unemployment: 5.50%
Top Universities: Rice University, University of Houston, Texas Southern University

Houston has an open data initiative, in which non-critical city data is published online for the use of anyone who cares to use it. The idea is get businesses and individuals looking at the data for their own purposes and to suggest civic solutions. Suggestions for the publication of additional data sets are welcome. The city government recently created an Innovation and Technology Advisory Board tasked with making city resources more accessible to entrepreneurs.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Population: 583,756
Unemployment: 8.20%
Top Universities: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, College of Southern Nevada

Downtown Las Vegas was displaced years ago by the Strip as a Mecca for glitz and gambling. Now the city’s Downtown Project is transforming the city center into a small business incubator. The project has allocated $350 million toward the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, $100 million of which is going to small businesses and half of that to tech startups.

Madison, Wisconsin

Population: 233,209
Unemployment: 4.10%
Top University: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Madison is a college town, and the University of Wisconsin is the magnet that draws many innovative companies to the area, such as Exact Sciences, the developer of a new technology for the early detection of colon cancer. The university spends more than $1 billion annually on research and development, and consistently ranks among the top five schools nationally in spending and patent generation. The city also has the highest percentage anywhere in the country of people holding Ph.D.s.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Population: 382,578
Unemployment: 4.20%
Top Universities: University of Minnesota Twin Cities, North Central University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Minneapolis hosts more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other city in the country, a fact which attracts big names in research and technology. But the city is also startup friendly. One initiative recently opened a 16,000-square-foot incubator facility which will provide not only space but mentoring services and seed money to new companies. Minneapolis is also home to the Innovation Exchange, which develops and disseminates energy efficiency solutions.

Portland, Oregon

Population: 583,776
Unemployment: 6.30%
Top University: Portland State University

This city has initiated an Innovation Quadrant, an actual district dedicated to innovation through collaboration among higher education, business and government. Portland is well known for its green and sustainability initiatives and ranks 10th in the nation for patents per capita. The metro area is now home to more than 1,200 technology companies, a significant number considering the city’s smallish size.

Reno, Nevada

Population: 225,221
Unemployment: 7.30%
Top University: University of Nevada, Reno

Reno is poised to become one of the world’s centers of innovation for autonomous systems, that is, those pilotless drones that may soon be tracking wildfires, helping to manage mining and agriculture, and delivering online orders to the country’s doorsteps. The Federal Aviation Administration recently chose Nevada as one of its test sites and the University of Nevada, Reno has already located its Nevada Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation Center in a downtown building.

San Jose, California

Population: 1,000,536
Unemployment: 6.30%
Top Universities: San Jose State University, California University of Management and Technology, Golden Gate University, University of California, Santa Cruz

As home to technology leaders like Hewlett Packard, Cisco Systems and IBM, as well as plenty of smaller and newer companies, San Jose simply boasts the largest concentration of technology expertise in the world. Over a quarter of a million people are employed at 6,600 area tech companies. San Jose leads the nation in the number of patents granted to locals and in the proportion—at 35 percent—of total venture capital investment.

Seattle, Washington

Population: 608,660
Unemployment: 5.20%
Top Universities: University of Washington, Seattle University, Seattle Pacific University, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

Seattle’s reputation for innovation springs from its leadership in green technologies, its innovative building and energy policies and practices, and its ability to attract creative and entrepreneurial talent. It is home to the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, dedicated to sustainable innovation and entrepreneurship, and a hub for organizations focused on sustainable development. Seattle ranks ninth in the nation in science and technology jobs and fourth in creative opportunities.

– Peter Buxbaum

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