Tech & Startups

Dallas Labeled a ‘Knowledge Capital,’ but Still Lags Top Peers in Innovation Metrics

A new report calls the city one of the most productive innovation centers in the U.S., but the numbers behind the numbers show Dallas still has some work to do.

Dallas was recently labeled a Knowledge Capital by the Brookings Institute.
Dallas was recently labeled a ‘Knowledge Capital’ by the Brookings Institute.

Dallas was recently ranked as one of the “most productive innovation centers” in the U.S. and Europe, earning the label “Knowledge Capital” along with just 19 other cities. But while the city fared well in economic-activity indicators, it consistently scored among the bottom five of the 19 cities when it came to the pure innovation categories.

The data comes from the “Redefining Global Cities” report, which was published by the Brookings Institute last Thursday. The report analyzed 123 of the largest metro economies in the world. The institute then broke down indicators across categories it defined as “tradable clusters,” innovation, talent, and infrastructure connectivity to determine the typology. Based on these indicators, Dallas was labeled a “Knowledge Capital.”

But where did the city beat out most of the other 18 cities? Unfortunately, according to the data, not in the innovation, talent, or infrastructure connectivity categories. Instead, Dallas scored high for its airline-traffic numbers and its GDP per capita.

Innovation was broken down into three categories: university research impact, defined as the share of publications in the top 10 percent of cited papers between 2010-2013; patents per capita, measuring the number of patents per 1,000 inhabitants between 2008-2013; and venture capital per capita, which counted investments between 2006-2015. Dallas scored in the bottom four of all three categories.

Dallas came in at No. 15 in university research impact, trailing Houston and Austin, which came in at Nos. 10 and 14, respectively. It similarly ranked No. 15 with a total of 86 cents of venture capital invested per capita, beating out Baltimore, Houston, Zurich, and Hartford. San Jose, to no surprise, took the lead in this category with a whopping total of $30.84 of venture capital invested per capita. Dallas, home to one of the newest U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices, ranked No. 18 of the 19 cities in this category for patents, ahead of Atlanta.

The report defined its talent category as the share of the population with higher education. Dallas ranked No. 18 here, beating out only Houston. The city’s internet speeds, which were ranked by average download speeds, ranked 18th, with an average speed of 27.2 megabits per second.

So where did Dallas do best? Two main areas: its gross domestic product statistics and its airline traffic numbers. With the second highest population of the 19 cities in its category, Dallas had the third highest nominal GDP per capita, totaling $458 billion in 2015. It also had the fifth highest average real gross domestic product growth between 2001 and 2015, at 2.8 percent. When it comes to air passengers, Dallas came in third, following Chicago and Atlanta, with 116 million passengers in 2014, the data shows.

So what does it all mean?

From the looks of it, Dallas has some dynamic economic characteristics, as do the other Texas cities. And it’s one of the best cities for air travel—a story that continues to be told time and time again as companies relocate here, in part for travel convenience. But as far as being a “Knowledge Capital” renowned for being one of the world’s truly great innovation centers, we still have some work to do.

View the full report here.

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