Mar 31, 2024 - News

🚀 Innovation on the rise

Change in utility patents granted per capita
Data: National Science Foundation; Note: Patents identified by location of inventors; Excludes metros with fewer than 50 patents in 2022; A bigger bubble indicates greater change; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Nearly 27 utility patents per 100,000 residents were granted in the Charlotte metro area in 2022 — up almost 11% from 2012, Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office data.

Why it matters: While Silicon Valley still holds the title for most patents awarded overall, the rate of change over time offers a compelling look at newly ascending — or lagging — areas.

  • Utility patents may be granted for inventing or discovering a new and useful process, machine or composition of matter, among other things.

Zoom in: The Raleigh metro had 83 patents granted per 100,000 people in 2022, down 27.2% from a decade prior, the data shows. Durham had 103.8 patents (down 6.8%), Winston-Salem had 26.5 (up 2.7%) and Greensboro had 22 (up 21.5%).

  • Nationally, 42.5 patents were granted for every 100,000 residents in 2022, up from 38.4 in 2012 (+11%).

Yes, but: In terms of raw numbers, the San Jose and San Francisco metros blew the rest of the country out of the water, with 14,089 and 11,346 patents granted in 2022 respectively.

  • New York took third place, at 6,979.

Caveat: Getting a patent is one thing; actually creating the proposed product or service is another.

  • That said, the number of patents granted is still a useful proxy for measuring something as quantitatively slippery as "innovation."
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