So, we know that Austin is the Silicon Hills of the South and leads the tech corridor in microchip development, tech startups and venture capital funding, outside of cities like San Francisco. I recently received the Patent Activity Report produced by Beverly Kerr, VP, Research at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and it became ever more evident to me why we are the incubator of tech development and why inventors, developers and top technology companies flock to our great city. The opportunity and the amazing talent pool is right here in our backyard.
Per the report:
- More than 4,000 patents to Austin area inventors in 2016 – this is the most ever awarded in Austin in a single year.
- In 2016, Austin patent awards were 11.2% higher than 2015.
- Austin garnered 30.8% of patents granted to Texas inventors in 2016, up from 28.7% in 2015.
These are some fantastic stats for our city and the future of tech development. According to Beverly, “patent activity is a primary indicator of Austin’s climate for innovation and is key to the region’s ability to sustain its competitive edge. Austin’s economic growth, exports, and job creation are uncommonly dependent on the concentration of high tech industries in our economy.”
Now, let’s get into the details and what this means for us.
The tech talent pool is right here
Patent growth is a direct result of the talented developers who work tirelessly to improve not only technology, but also processes and product design. We see this in Austin. According to Avalanche Consulting, Austin ranks #5 in the United States as The Most Talented U.S. Metros. We know we have a great workforce, but it is nice to have it confirmed.
In addition, according to the American Community Survey (ACS) 2015, the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program, the Austin MSA has a 89.2% educational attainment – this is the percent of the population that attended high school or higher. 69.5% of Austin’s population has attended some college, 42.6% has a Bachelor’s Degree or higher, and 14.8% have a Graduate Degree. Austin stands above other major metro markets, ranking 6th out of the 50 largest metros for percent of the population with at least a Bachelor’s Degree according to the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Patent growth and its tie to jobs
Austin has the perfect environment for this talent. According to Innovate Austin, Austin has 46 tech incubators, accelerators, maker and co-worker spaces, and 5,485 high-tech companies, providing a hot bed of activity for our workforce.
It is noted in the Patent Activity that IBM is consistently the top patented company in Austin. The Austin location has in the past had the highest number of patents, beat out only by Yorktown Heights, IBM’s largest research lab. Recently there has been a decline by 52% in Austin IBM patents compared to New York, but Austin still ranks above the San Jose and other major U.S. lab locations.
Business leaders have witnessed companies’ success after success in Austin. Since 2000, IBM and Dell’s success have been drivers to bring other companies to Austin. In 2016, we have seen companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and other giant California-based tech companies expanding in Austin or looking to setup shop. Companies moving to Austin will not only stimulate the economy, but also create jobs and, as a result, increase housing demands.
Technology trends in line with recent influx in patents
Among the larger patent classes in Austin, ‘Semiconductor Device Manufacturing: Process’ has seen the greatest decline in patents issued,” said the Patent Activity Report. This is in line with what we are seeing with rumblings of semiconductor company declines and acquisitions.
The report continues, “a smaller but growing ‘life sciences’ grouping made up of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) calls ‘body treatment and care’ plus selected classes under ‘life and agricultural sciences and testing methods’ shows significant growth (210%) in Austin between 2001-2005 (211 patents) and 2011-2015 (443 patents).” This patent growth can be attributed to the over 200 life sciences companies now in the region fueling this growth in new products.
Virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) companies are on the rise in Austin. If you look at the Top 20 Hot Austin Startups to Watch in 2017, you will see that several VR and AI startups are in the rankings.
With our talent pool, technology prowess and entrepreneurial spirit, I am excited to see what new technology comes out of Austin. The proof is in the patents.
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