Seattle ranks #11 in U.S. Chamber report on cities’ readiness for shift to digital economy; Boston, San Francisco rank at the top

Seattle falls just out of the top ten, coming in No. 11, in the recently released Innovation That Matters report, published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 1776,  and Free Enterprise. 

Innovation that Matters examines and ranks 25 cities’ readiness to capitalize on the inevitable shift to a digital economy. It carves out critical trends every U.S. city leader can learn from and offers recommendations local leaders can adopt to strengthen their region’s digital competitiveness.

Of Seattle, the report says,

1. Seattle’s tech sector is booming, but connectivity and culture indicators point to challenges ahead. The city’s world-class IT companies (1st) have vaulted it into the upper echelon of U.S. tech hubs, but survey results suggest that work needs to be done to build the collaborative community (22nd) and cultural foundations (22nd) needed for long-term success.

2. The talent base in Seattle is thriving. The city’s robust population inflows (6th), highly educated young residents (9th) and skilled tech workforce (2nd) combine to make it one of the top talent pools in the country (4th).

3. Within the ecosystem, support from professional service firms, universities and civic institutions such as city government are relative strengths, whereas lack of engaged corporations, citizens, cheerleaders and mentors remain weaknesses…

4. Startups in Seattle are doing well in a variety of sectors, but no clear specialization has emerged yet. The city ranks 5th in overall specialization and is relatively even in its performance across the Ed Tech (7th), Energy Tech (10th), Health Tech (8th) and Smart City Tech (8th) industries. When it comes to established company specializations, the general IT cluster—driven by Amazon and Microsoft—stands out (1st).

5. A high concentration of tech startups means that Seattle should feel like a dense community, but local entrepreneurs don’t perceive it that way..

Seattle Times reporter Rachel Lerman writes,

One of the key take-aways we found is that cities that dominated in legacy industries in the 20th century may not be the ones that dominate in the 21st,” said Donna Harris, co-founder and co-CEO of 1776.

Harris compared the booming tech trend to the shift from agriculture to the Industrial Revolution. Cities doing particularly well are ones that bring together startups with large corporations, government leaders and research institutions, she said.

The current issue of AWB’s Washington Business magazine also examines the state’s tech industry and its effects on the economy.