It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. If that’s the case, those who are inspired by new solutions have much to look forward to. As the nation faces challenges in health and medicine, sustainability, and technology, there is at least hope that individuals will rise with the next world-changing idea.
Most recently, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX sent its very first passengers to space aboard the Dragon spacecraft. The groundbreaking aspect of this launch is that it’s the first time in a decade a spacecraft has launched from American soil after the end of NASA’s space travel program. This is also the very first time a private company has ever flown to orbit.
With every high comes a low, and right now as our nation’s labor force responds to the challenges of the moment, it will be interesting to see how different cities’ workers respond differently. To try to anticipate what regional differences will look like, we can look to a new study about the most inventive places in the U.S.
The study which ranked different cities, states, and regions based on patents issued in recent history, has some interesting findings that may indicate where we will see innovation and invention arise.
First, the study indicated that we will probably see lots of inventions coming from cities on the West Coast. Of the Top 10 cities for the highest numbers of patents issued per capita since 1973, six were all located along the Pacific. These included major cities in California, Oregon, and Washington. Notably, the Top 3 cities, Fremont, San Jose, and Irvine, CA were all located in California. These cities are home to major tech and research companies, building an atmosphere of invention. Interestingly, the most recent winner of the U.S. Nationals’ Annual Invention Convention was a 7th Grader from Fremont! So, the city shows no signs of stopping in its creative path.
Another interesting factor of the list was that many of the cities which are home to inventors also happen to be quite expensive. Top cities like San Jose, CA, the city ranked second highest for inventiveness, as well as No. 7 San Francisco, No. 9 Seattle, and No. 22 Boston is all notoriously expensive. It will be interesting to see if future inventors continue to arise from these cities, or if other cities with lower average incomes produce as many new ideas.
On that note, the study also sought to gain a more complete picture of the country’s top states. This allowed the study to capture the small-town inventors that bring up state totals. Not surprisingly, the top state was California. With many of the top cities on the first list compiled a massive collection of patents, California amassed over 657,000 patents from 1963-2015. If numbers like these are any indication, the state of California will lead in the creation of inventive solutions in years to come.
One surprising state that reached the top of the rankings was New Jersey. Although the small state is often shadowed by its Big Apple neighbor, New Jersey ranked No. 4 among all states for the total number of patents issued over 52 years with a whopping 183,114 patents.
Finally, the study segmented and analyzed the data based on regions to draw even wider scopes about inventiveness in the United States. On par with the most inventive cities and states, the West was the most inventive region followed by the Northeast.
The least inventive region was the South, though increased social issues like income inequality and poverty may hold back Southerners from pursuing the invention and patent issue process. It will be interesting to see if challenges in our nation’s social landscape lead to barrier-breaking in Southern innovation.
Overall, the millions of patents filed by Americans in modern history are impressive and it’s reassuring to know that across all parts of the country, Americans will meet challenges with invention. We don’t know who will be the next Thomas Edison, Dr. Shirley Jackson, or Elon Musk.