Skye Gould/Business InsiderCities are the way of the future.
In less than 35 years, the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. That’s an additional 2.5 billion people. The cities that will flourish rely on cutting-edge technologies and create opportunities for people to develop new innovations.
To get a sense of which cities do that the best, Business Insider consulted 2thinknow, a research firm that analyzes innovative cities, to rank the most high-tech cities in the US.
The firm chose 10 factors related to technological advancement — including the number of patents filed per capita, startups, tech venture capitalists, level of smartphone use, and ranking in other innovation datasets — weighted them, and ranked a list of 85 cities accordingly.
If you want to know what the future will look like, these are the cities to keep an eye on.
11. Miami, Florida
Known more for its beaches and party scene than its tech, Miami has a high level of tech sophistication baked into its urban landscape. In 2thinknow’s analysis, Miami scored extremely high in measures of smartphone and city innovation.
There’s also a nascent startup culture involving companies that focus on international ventures, given the city’s proximity to South America. Larger companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook have set up shop in recent years.
10. Phoenix, Arizona
What used to be a city devoted to hardware manufacturing is moving on to software, particularly as a number of Silicon Valley startups have started relocating to the Southwest.
A report from 2015 found the city’s software sector is expected to grow 14% by 2019, surpassing Denver and Austin in the total number of information and communication technology workers.
9. Houston, Texas
One of two Texas cities on 2thinknow’s ranking, Houston is well-connected from a smartphone and smart cities perspective. City government makes use of big data to run more efficiently in both its internal operations as well as the housing sector.
Most recently, Mayor Sylvester Turner has announced he’ll look to modernize Houston’s healthcare sector and ramp up cybersecurity by partnering with leading Israeli companies.
8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The number of startups and venture capital firms in Philadelphia is higher than in some of the biggest cities in the world, including Madrid, Dublin, and Shanghai.
DuckDuckGo, InviteMedia, and Monetate have all emerged from the city. In 2010, InviteMedia sold to Google for $81 million. Venture capital in the city is still small compared to nearby New York, but the VC presence is growing.
7. Washington, D.C.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
The US capital has been rapidly expanding its tech scene over the last decade, growing its overall number of tech-related jobs by 50%.
In addition, more than 1,000 startups call Washington, DC home. The proximity to the federal government mixed with the deep pockets of nearby venture-capital firms makes starting a world-changing company an appealing prospect in the city.
6. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Within the last couple years, Dallas has established itself as a startup hub.
In 2thinknow’s analysis, the Texas city climbed from 28th in 2016 to just outside the top 10 because of its rapid growth in the number of venture capitalists and integration of technology into the city landscape.
5. Chicago, Illinois
You might not think of the Midwest as a startup magnet, but Chicago is quickly proving that assumption false. A recent report found Illinois was among the top five in high-tech jobs — 5.28% of all available roles — compared to other US states, with the Windy City making up a big chunk of those spots.
Brookings Institution also says Chicago is a hotbed for urban planning innovation, driven largely by City Digital, a Chicago-based project designed to solve infrastructure problems related to energy management, water, and transportation.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
A huge number of exciting biotech and robotics technologies have come out of Boston over the last several years, mainly from elites schools like like MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern.
The city has a handful of venture capital firms (Battery Ventures, Atlas Venture, Bessemer Venture Partners, Matrix Venture Partners) that pour money into innovation labs and university startups. And big-name companies like Facebook and Amazon have set up R&D offices in Boston to pull from this growing pool of talent.
3. Los Angeles, California
Film isn’t the only big industry in LA.
In 2014, a report from the LA County Economic Development Corporation suggested that LA had more high-tech sector jobs than any other region in the US. The report also found the total wealth output hovers around $58 billion. When 2thinknow performed its analysis, it found the same: Startups and venture capital play a major role in LA’s tech sector boom.
2. New York, New York
New York is a special kind of tech heavyweight. It is dated in its infrastructure, but at the same time, unbelievably progressive.
According to the state comptroller’s office, nearly 7,000 high-tech companies in New York City provided more than 100,000 jobs during the third quarter of 2013.
In addition to homegrown companies, the city also launches integrated, citywide technology: LinkNYC, a free Wifi service, has over 500 kiosks around Manhattan available for public use, and many experts believe the city is just getting started.
1. San Francisco, California
Plenty of cities claim to be the “Silicon Valley” of their state or country, but there’s only one actual Silicon Valley.
Since 2thinknow defines the region as the most urbanized area within the Bay Area, San Francisco takes the top spot. It is the epicenter of tech, from its gigantic startup culture to its venture capital scene to its population of designers and programmers.
Silicon Valley wins in just about every category because the supply chain of innovation has made its home there, even as smaller contenders claw at the title.