2/1/2013 8:31:37 AM
Times Union: A region where ideas begin
ALBANY — Pound-for-pound, the Capital Region is one of the strongest metro areas for discovery and invention in the country, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution.
The study, which looked at the number of patents issued to inventors in different metro areas ranks the Capital Region 18th in the United States in terms of patents per million residents, with 971 between 2007 and 2011.
Although the region sits just outside the Top 20 list in terms of the average patents issued annually from 2007 to 2011, the region's ranking in terms of its population places it in rarefied air with high-tech hot spots like San Jose, Calif., Austin, Texas, Seattle, Boulder, Colo. and the Research Triangle in North Carolina.
And the good news extends across upstate. Poughkeepsie, which is home to an IBM computer chip factory, ranks sixth in the nation in terms of patents and population. Rochester is also in the Top 20 in that ranking, as is Ithaca, which is just behind the Capital Region on the list at 19.
As would be expected in terms of total patents granted annually, San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, holds the undisputed No. 1 ranking with 9,237 patents granted to its inventors on average annually between 2007 and 2011. The San Francisco area, just to the north, is No. 2 with 7,003 patents on average annually during the same period.
The good news is that as San Jose goes, so should the Capital Region. The Brookings report says that several factors have contributed to the success of Silicon Valley in terms of invention. Not only has the area been a hotbed for the high-growth semiconductor and computer chip industries, but it also has very strong high-tech research institutions and a highly skilled workforce. The same could be said, although to a lesser degree, for the Capital Region.
"The places that garnered extra market share in large patent classes—and therefore most took advantage of market trends — often had leading academic research programs in science fields and a large highly skilled workforce," the Brookings report said.
And it also doesn't hurt that the Capital Region also hosts significant operations by General Electric and IBM — which employ some of the most prolific inventors in the country. Between 2007 and 2012, IBM had the most U.S. patents issued of any company, with 5,020. GE was ranked sixth with 1,325 in that time period.