Silicon Valley and innovation in California

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

California is the state with the highest number of newly-issued patents in the U.S. Several factors come into play here: not only does the state have the largest population, but it also has the most universities and high-tech companies.

Silicon Valley companies do indeed account for a significant portion of all patents, with Qualcomm, Google, and Apple topping the list in the recent years. In 2015, Qualcomm Inc. took first place with 2,236 newly-issued patents — only slightly lower than the number of individually-owned patents (2,886).

See how the word cloud based on the abstracts of the newly-issued patents reflects this:

wordle CA

The technology class breakdown further confirms our findings. Out of the top five classes by total number of patents, telecommunications and drugs exhibited growth in 2012–2013. After that, it seems that focus shifted to databases and “multicomputer data transferring” — basically, the technologies behind cloud networking. Note also that this correlates with our findings in our earlier post about cloud technologies.

So, just how more innovative is Silicon Valley? The map below shows us how the number of newly-issued patents changed throughout the last 15 years in California. Of course, Santa Clara County took first place, starting from an already impressive 56 patents issued per 10,000 employees in 2000 and growing to 143 patents per 10,000 employees in 2015.

Innovation: number of new patents per 10,000 employees

The numbers observed in San Mateo County were around 30 percent lower, while Alameda County and Santa Cruz County trailed behind.

In contrast, significantly lower numbers (for a highly-urbanized area) were registered in Los Angeles County; over 4 million people worked here in 2015, but only 3,600 patents were issued.


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About Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov

Andrey Kamenov, Ph.D. Probability and Statistics

Andrey Kamenov is a data scientist working for Advameg Inc. His background includes teaching statistics, stochastic processes and financial mathematics in Moscow State University and working for a hedge fund. His academic interests range from statistical data analysis to optimal stopping theory. Andrey also enjoys his hobbies of photography, reading and powerlifting.

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