It’s no secret that certain US cities are known as technology hubs, while others seem to be getting left behind in the tech sector. But do these perceived discrepancies actually relate to innovation potential? Would a programmer in Dallas, Texas, really struggle to find employment without moving to the San Francisco Bay Area? In other words: what makes certain tech economies more productive than others?
The Atlantic recently reported on a study out of the University of Toronto measuring this very concept. The researchers found that cities known for supporting “anchor institutions” like large companies and well-funded universities (e.g., Boston, Mass.) employed significantly more technology inventors, but they were not producing a proportionally larger amount of citation-weighted patents. Meanwhile, cities with fewer technology investors but a much higher rate of patents per inventor (e.g., Portland, Ore.) usually had many more small, entrepreneurial tech firms.
What’s the takeaway of these findings? The best cities for technology innovation have a varied ecosystem, with at least one large institution and many smaller companies.
oDesk’s own VP Matt Cooper takes this discussion one step further in his Inc. column, arguing that the rise of online collaboration tools has rendered geographic location all but moot:
“By breaking down the ‘set-time, set-place’ barriers of Industrial-Age work, businesses can innovate and grow regardless of where they happen to be located. This is fueling startup growth around the world, to the tune of more than $1B spent hiring on oDesk so far. And as remote work becomes increasingly mainstream, startups that were entirely virtual from Day One are staying that way even as they grow to big companies—just look at Stack Overflow and Auttomatic."
Click here to read the rest of Matt’s thoughts on online work’s potential!