How Does Silicon Valley Compare With Other Global City-Regions?

By John Melville

Most would agree that Silicon Valley is one of the world’s leading innovation regions.  But what do the numbers say?  Unfortunately, comparable international measures are still not available in many issue areas covered by SVCIP.  That is why we have been able to develop comprehensive comparisons only across selected Innovation Regions in the United States.  However, we do recognize Silicon Valley competes in a global innovation economy, and should be measured against global regions whenever possible.

Here is what we do know: As we reported in the 2016 SVCIP Update, the Compass’ Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking of 2015 placed the region first based on a composite measure incorporating venture capital investment, start-up company exit valuations, talent pool, and entrepreneurial supports and networks. At the same time, other regions like Berlin, London, Tel Aviv, Chicago, and Boston scored higher on the Growth Index, meaning they are making up ground on Silicon Valley in these areas.

The Brookings Institution has just released a comprehensive analysis of the 123 largest metropolitan areas in the world (see Redefining Global Regions, 2016).  On a variety of indicators, the San Jose and San Francisco metropolitan areas rank among the top regions in the world.  In short:  Silicon Valley has the largest share of publications in the top 10% of cited papers (2010-2013), and generates the most patents per capita.  It is the most productive region, and attracts the largest venture capital investment per capita of any metropolitan area in the world.  It has among the highest percentage of people with bachelors’ or higher degrees, only exceeded by Singapore, London, and Washington D.C.

Despite being the birthplace of many founding internet technologies, one of the measures on which the region performs poorly is average internet download speed.  Silicon Valley is actually well behind several regions across Asia (e.g., Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Seoul, Hong Kong), Europe (e.g., Paris, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Zurich), and the United States (e.g., Austin, Seattle, Boston, New York City, and Los Angeles, as well as Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Riverside).

Stay tuned for the 2017 SVCIP Update which will be released in February.

John Melville is Co-CEO of Collaborative Economics.