These 10 Cities Are the Most Innovative in the United States

It’s hard to know what next-generation idea is going to change the world, but regardless of what it is, it’s going to take innovation to make it happen.

Several European countries are among the most innovative in the world, partly because they have educated populations and easy access capital. When it comes to technology, the United States is one of the world leaders. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are some of the most innovative and valuable companies in the world, and few U.S. companies could soon join them.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation took a look at several factors to determine the cities that could house the next big things in tech. In a world that is becoming more digital every day, these innovative cities are leading the way for the United States.

10. Portland, Ore.

Portland, Oregon

There are still some innovative companies there. | Png-Studio/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 639,863
  • Notable tech companies: Intuitive Digital, Zapproved

Even though Portland’s ‘Silicon Forest’ seems to be in a bit of a downturn, it is still one of the cities that could be among the most innovative in the country. Companies like Google have offices there, and homegrown startups like Intuitive Digital are poised to make waves in the tech sector. Cheaper real estate (at least relative to Silicon Valley) helped promote the boom to begin with and keeps Portland competitive. Software engineers in Portland earn an average of $77,340 and have easy access to great restaurants and craft beer.

Next: A big city doing big things in the tech industry.

9. New York

Times Square in New York City

New York is on the cutting edge. | AndreyKrav/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 8,537,673
  • Notable tech companies: Foursquare, Yext

It makes sense that the largest city in the United States would be a melting pot for innovative tech companies. Foursquare might be the most well known, but a company like Yext is changing the way businesses reach out to consumers. Yext is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as there are a handful of hot tech startups helping keep New York on the cutting edge. Being on the cutting edge can be quite lucrative, as software engineers in New York earn a median salary of $96,516.

Next: This city is more than just its most famous tech resident.

8. Seattle

Seattle Cityscape

Seattle obviously scores big with companies like Amazon. | welcomia/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 704,352
  • Notable tech companies: Amazon, Tableau

When it comes to Seattle and game-changing tech companies, the conversation starts with Amazon. It doesn’t end there. GeekWire’s list of 200 Pacific Northwest tech startups features a dense cluster in Seattle. Data collator Tableau and home improvement app Porch are two software businesses keeping Seattle innovative. A median salary of $96,438 for software engineers ensures Seattle lures some of the best talent in the industry.

Next: The tech sector keeps booming in this city.

7. Dallas

Dallas, Texas cityscape with blue sky

Dallas is making moves to support its startups. | f11photo/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 1,317,929
  • Notable tech companies: Active Network, CyrusOne

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation study shows Dallas made a huge jump up the rankings of most innovative cities. A big reason for the move is because Dallas has legitimized its startup businesses, helping them secure the financing they need to get off the ground. An overall cost of living below the national average is enticing, meaning the $70,095 entry level salary for software engineers stretches just a little bit further. As such, the number of tech startups calling Dallas home seems to be growing all the time.

Next: Zipping across the South to our next destination.

6. Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown skyline at dusk.

Atlanta has been vying for startups. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 472,522
  • Notable tech companies: NFANT Labs, SalesLoft

Atlanta is proof that if you put in the effort, you can become a leader in innovation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation applauds Atlanta city officials for making the city an inviting environment for entrepreneurs starting tech companies. Companies like NFANT Labs and B2B firm SalesLoft are shaping Atlanta into an innovative tech hotspot. With tech companies paying a median salary of $77,072, it gives Atlanta staying power as a tech leader.

Next: Thinking outside the box pays off for this city.

5. Austin, Texas

Austin is thriving with young talent. | iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Population: 947,890
  • Notable tech companies: ESO Solutions, Turnkey

A city that could be the home of the new Amazon headquarters, Austin will do just fine even if Amazon doesn’t move in. Access to young talent via the University of Texas helps keep Austin innovative, but it’s not the only factor. The city champions its startup culture, and it has shown it can think outside of the box. One of the startups is a company helping other startups navigate the legal obstacle course on the way to opening for business. Software engineers earn a median of $80,739 per year, a healthy wage that will keep the personnel pipeline moving in the right direction for years to come.

Next: A West Coast stop to one of the most innovative cities in the country.

4. San Diego

Point Loma, San Diego

San Diego cultivates a startup-friendly atmosphere. | dancestrokes/iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 1,406,630
  • Notable tech companies: Fuse Integration, Ossic

GoPro is headquartered just north of San Diego, but even if you take that company off the list the city is still a hot location for tech companies. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation notes, San Diego’s mayor is very active is cultivating a tech startup-friendly atmosphere, and even wireless megacorp Qualcomm is helping innovative tech companies get off the ground. Ossic (3D sound technology) and Fuse Integration (communication hardware and software) are among the innovative companies in the San Diego, where the median salary for a software engineer is $83,884.

Next: Something of a surprise? This next city might be.

3. Philadelphia


Philly is surprising people. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Population: 1,567,872
  • Notable tech companies: KickUp, The One Health Company

Maybe more than any city on this list, Philadelphia is home to startup tech companies hoping to impart lasting social change. KickUp (helping teachers be more effective), The One Health Company (curing pets of cancer), and HomeGrown Farms (hydroponic farming in southern New Jersey) are in it for more than just the money. Even if the general population doesn’t see Philadelphia as a tech hotspot, the industry does. Amazon, Google, and IBM have snatched up some of Philly’s innovative companies in recent years. Being in the tech field in Philly can be quite lucrative, with the media software engineer salary sitting at $77,236.

Next: The region well-known for tech is actually No. 2 on this list.

2. Bay Area, Calif.

Fremont, California

Silicon Valley is interestingly not in the top spot. | yhelfman/iStock/Getty Images Plus

  • Population: 2,634,454
  • Notable tech companies: Apple, Intel

You can’t turn around in California’s Bay Area and Silicon Valley without seeing the headquarters of a huge tech company. In addition to the ones listed above, the Bay Area is also home to Adobe, Facebook, Tesla, and hundreds of others. This part of the country, which includes San Francisco (population 870,887), San Jose (1,025,350), Oakland (420,005), Santa Clara (125,948), Palo Alto (67,024), and Berkeley (125,240) has long been at the forefront of the tech field. With Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley nearby, innovative Bay Area companies have some of the brightest young, computer-savvy talent at their fingertips. The average salary for software engineers, $103,000, is more than any other city on this list.

Next: The one city leading the way in innovation.

1. Boston

boston subway

With the likes of Harvard and MIT it’s no surprise it’s on top. | Darren McCollester/Newsmakers

  • Population: 673,184
  • Notable tech companies: Fuze, Toast

How did Boston earn the top spot on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation innovation ratings? The answer is as complex as the tech industry itself. For one thing, world-class colleges like Harvard, MIT, and Boston University ensure there is plenty of highly educated talent in the city on a regular basis. For another, Boston has a website dedicated to pairing personnel and potential investors with innovative tech companies. Third, software engineers can expect a healthy salary (a median of $87,421). Finally, the community at large has embraced the tech startup industry, investing heavily to help keep the innovation rolling. Add it all up and Boston is the best of the best innovative cities in the U.S.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!