Photo via Richard Bauer

Silicon Valley may get all of the buzz.

But don’t underestimate the power of Seattle and its surrounding communities.

A new analysis by Bloomberg indicates that Washington state — home to Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft — is the most innovative place in the country. California ranked second, followed by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Oregon.

There are no shortage of studies ranking innovation centers and startup hubs, but Bloomberg’s analysis offers some hard-crunched data, looking at things such as patents, tech jobs and public tech companies in each state. The report notes:

Washington, known for rainy Seattle, abundant greenery and fleece-clad citizens, had the highest total score, not by topping any of the categories — California is highest in patent activity and five states have more skilled workers — but by placing near the top. That’s due to the large technology workforce, high productivity rates and plethora of public companies in aerospace, biotechnology and computer technology.

Sunny Gupta
Sunny Gupta

Apptio co-founder Sunny Gupta is quoted in the Bloomberg story about Washington state, one of the up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the region. Apptio raised an additional $45 million in venture funding earlier this year, and it is a top 25 company in the GeekWire 200 list of the top privately-held tech companies.

Of course, you don’t need to convince us that Washington is a top innovation hub, since GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop and I have been covering the tech scene here for more than a decade. In that time, we’ve watched the rise of companies like Amazon, Tableau and Zillow, not to mention the arrival of Silicon Valley tech giants like Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com and eBay which have chosen to establish engineering outposts here, largely to mine the talented developers and engineers.

Even so, some folks across the country tend to forget that there’s a tech hub in this corner of the world, simply lumping in Seattle with Silicon Valley or forgetting us altogether. (See previous GeekWire reportsHey everyone, Jeff Bezos lives in Seattle and Amazon is not a ‘Silicon Valley’ companyHey, NYC: Thanks for finally recognizing Seattle but your infographic stinks)

Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at Startup Day.
Gov. Jay Inslee speaking at Startup Day.

According to Bloomberg’s analysis, tech companies make up 21 percent of the state’s public companies. That compares to 29 percent in California and Massachusetts.

The number of people working in STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and math) came in at 2.82 percent of the total population. That compared to 2.26 percent in California, and 3.44 percent in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, 9.5 percent of Washingtonians hold a science or tech degree — ahead of California, but just behind Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Speaking at the recent GeekWire Startup Day event, Gov. Jay Inslee touted the innovative spirit of Washington.

“This is the center of innovation,” Inslee said. “It is this group here this morning that really epitomizes what Washington is: The most innovative culture and place on the planet.”

And the least innovative places? That dubious honor goes to Wyoming, Mississippi and Arkansas, according to Bloomberg.

Here’s a closer look at some of the analysis. (Click on chart for all results).


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • http://startedinseattle.com/ ChetCrunch

    This is awesome, thanks for sharing. I wish the first sentence wasn’t about Silicon Valley though. We don’t need that. :)

  • http://www.compassionateactionnetwork.com/ dakini_3

    Seattle: Soul, Smarts, Sight and a Soundtrack! … We are in a renaissance for those who Jump the Curve … and are emerging as the HeartBeat of the 21st Century.

  • http://fearmyblog.com/ tacanderson

    “Meanwhile, 9.5 percent of Washingtonians hold a science or tech degree —
    ahead of California, but just behind Massachusetts and California.”

    We are both ahead and behind California? We’re so innovative we can be both in front of you and behind you. Take that California!

    • johnhcook

      That was my error. Washington is ahead of CA, and behind MA and Conn. in that category. I’ve made the correction above. Thanks.

  • Lumberjack

    Since when is Walla Walla one of Seattle’s “surrounding communities”? I love seeing the East side represented in the photo, but it seems out of place for this article. Also, Seattle’s not rainy. It’s a couple hours drive from rainforests, but it actually receives less precipitation than most major cities.

  • bostonblah

    wow most innovative already ,and legal recreational cannabis is not even on sale yet

Job Listings on GeekWork