A new report examining the top 25 cities in the US for their readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to the digital economy puts Boston at number one, followed by the Bay Area in Silicon Valley. The Innovation That Matters 2016 report, released by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Chamber’s FreeEnterprise.com, and 1776, provides an index comparing key statistics in 25 cities to show how well they are turning capital into successful tech industries.
A report also makes recommendations for city leaders that want to encourage the potenial of their digital economies. One of those recommendations is to focus beyond startups, to the wider ecosystem.
While the San Francisco Bay Area is the leader in total startup activity, Boston earned the top spot by having clear emphasis on next generation tech companies specializing in education, energy and healthcare industries; high quality of life ratings; and a welcoming regulatory environment for startup communities.
The report says that although the Bay Area was the clear leader across most index categories, its rankings in ecosystem connectivity suggests that the competitive nature of the region may be reducing collaboration among startups, government, corporates and institutions. When thinking about building their own digital economies, city leaders need to start with the basics but prepare to move beyond them to remain competitive.
To compile the report, researchers visited eight cities—Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and Seattle—where they met with public and private sector leaders to develop specific recommendations for how cities can evolve their startup communities. Those anecdotal findings are paired with the results of the 25-city index that cross-referenced data sets focused on talent, capital, specialization, density, connectivity, and cultural statistics, along with a survey of more than 330 startup leaders.
“We built 1776 to help entrepreneurs succeed wherever they live, but they need a strong base of support in their communities,” said Donna Harris, cofounder & co-CEO of 1776. “Our research over the past year shows how cities can build that infrastructure and draw on national networks to support not only startups, but the innovative companies that have always powered their regions.”
Innovation That Matters 2016 builds on research outlined in the first Innovation That Matters report, released last year, which shared guidelines for developing startup ecosystems around highly regulated industries. Together, these reports can help guide civic leaders in creating the kinds of connected communities necessary for startups to exist and thrive.
“Chambers of commerce exist to help businesses grow and navigate the changing economy,” said Tom Collamore, senior vice president of communications and strategy at the US Chamber of Commerce. “The insights gained from this research will help guide entrepreneurs and established industries as they work together to create the next generation of great American businesses. Our findings underscore the importance of collaboration among the startup community with corporations, universities, foundations, and local government to be economically competitive.”
Key recommendations from the report for city leaders are:
- Understand the inevitable trajectory of the digital economy
- Imagine a new future that includes history; where technological possibility intersects with legacy assets and unique strengths
- Focus beyond startups to include corporations, universities, nonprofits and local government
- Work proactively toward a new governing framework that marries technological possibility and regulation
To download the full Innovation That Matters 2016 report, click here.