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The Density of Innovation

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U.S. patent density

This map shows the density of innovation based on the number of patents per square kilometer.

Credit: Zara Matheson / Martin Prosperity Institute

Patents are the conventional measure of innovation in the high-tech industry because they represent a systematic, quantitative measure of innovation and are used by economists as the single dominant measure of innovation. A map showing the density of innovation based on this measure reveals that the median density of innovation is .008 patents per square kilometer and that the densest metros have more than .4 patents per square kilometer, while the least dense have fewer than .001. San Jose (Silicon Valley) tops the list with .831 patents per square kilometer, followed by San Francisco with .446 patents per square kilometer.

The density of patents is closely associated with key regional economic outcomes, including wages, incomes, and economic output. A scattergraph suggests a close association between innovation density and regional wages.

The density of high-tech employment is measured by the number of high-tech workers per square kilometer. The densest metro area, Los Angeles, has nearly 40 high-tech employees per square kilometer, followed by San Francisco (30), Trenton, New Jersey (29), San Jose (24), and New York City (23).

Another scattergraph shows that a high density of high-tech workers also is closely associated with innovation density.

From The Atlantic
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Abstracts Copyright © 2010 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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