Ann Arbor named sixth most innovative city in U.S.

Ann Arbor is the sixth most innovative city in the U.S., according to a new ranking based on the number of patents issued per capita and the percentage of college-educated residents.


Financial news website 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 25 most innovative U.S. cities is based on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015, the most recent year available. In 2015 7,928 Ann Arbor residents were granted patents.


Other cities in the top 10 were the Silicon Valley metro area; Bremerton, Wash.; Rochester, Minn.; Boulder, Colo.; and Santa Cruz, Calif.


Bill Mayer, vice president of entrepreneurial services at Ann Arbor SPARK, says he thinks Ann Arbor’s environment is appealing to startups and entrepreneurs who are paving the way for innovation in the area. While other cities may have a lot to offer, Ann Arbor combines a college-town feel with diverse, rapid economic development.


“There’s a certain ethos in Ann Arbor centered around the university,” Mayer says. “There are people trying to solve big and difficult problems here, and the university inspires the entrepreneurial spirit.”


The list references both SPARK and the University of Michigan as driving forces for innovation in Ann Arbor. Mayer says national recognition from 24/7 Wall St. is encouraging for the efforts and events put on by SPARK, such as the annual Tech Trek featuring open houses at local tech businesses.


It’s always really validating,” Mayer says. We don't try to be Silicon Valley. We try to be the best Ann Arbor we can be.”


Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at


Photo courtesy of Ann Arbor SPARK.