These Are the World's Top Cities for Patents and Innovation

December 17, 2013
General Foundation

Quartz is out with a list, courtesy the OECD, of the world’s leading cities for patents. San Francisco, a key hub of America’s tech industry, sits atop the list with nearly 9,000 patents filed in 2008. As a whole, Western Europe and the United States are head and shoulders above other countries, filling 17 of the top 20 spots. 

Yet looking at patent intensity reveals an altogether different picture. It’s a strong indicator of a place’s innovativeness and the likelihood that knowledge will spill over to other parts of the economy. 

 It turns out that the most patent intensive city in the world is … Eindhoven, a city in The Netherlands. Philips, the Dutch electronics firm, has called that part of southern Holland home since 1891, and its level of innovation is likely a key reason the firm’s survived (and thrived) since. 

You’re more likely to see highly concentrated pockets of innovation in Western Europe than anywhere else in the world. Perhaps that’s a result of the region’s more densely population cities. Whatever the reason, America’s city leaders should see these findings as reason to redouble their efforts at encouraging research activity.