In a recent post about cleantech R&D and patents and Brookings Institution (BI) analysis which showed, among other things, that many patents are actually being secured around the country, including the Heartland. I also noted the growing concern about gutting the Department of Energy’s budgets (which now could be a reality save for congressional intervention). You may recall that in that post, I noted that, according to BI:
U.S. cleantech patenting is both concentrated in large metropolitan areas and widely distributed across diverse regions of the country. Cleantech patenting, in terms of absolute patent issuance, is highly concentrated in a relatively small number of larger metropolitan areas. 10 metro areas ranging from Boston and Detroit to Houston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and San Jose accounted for 38% of the cleantech patents developed by U.S. inventors since 2011, while 20 metro areas accounted for 52%. And yet, the patent data make clear that cleantech innovation is also widely distributed across diverse regions of the country as the figure dhows below. I bet if I overlaid these areas with the election results (electoral college and popular vote) there might be an interesting trend line to draw. And I will do that analysis and show it in a separate post. But nevertheless, this is not a Silicon Valley elite issue we’re dealing with here. The coming budget gut is as much a Heartland issue as it is a Silicon Valley issue.
Well, I’ve done it and it’s eye-opening:
The chart above shows the top 20-21 states with the most bioenergy and advanced materials patents in the U.S. Many of these states, as you can see, are in the Midwest, the Heartland of the U.S., which voted heavily for Trump in the election. These states, the light-green shaded in the chart, represent 66% of the electoral college vote and 52% of the popular vote for Trump. Whopping numbers. So my question is, when it comes to cutting funding, slowing and stifling innovation and generally putting the brakes on cleantech, does it even make sense? Especially when given the potential upsides (jobs – and recall that was a campaign promise – economic development and international competitiveness)? Have we thought this one through?
Tammy Klein is a consultant and strategic advisor providing market and policy intelligence and analysis on transportation fuels to the auto and oil industries, governments, and NGOs. She writes and advises on petroleum fuels, biofuels, alternative fuels, automotive fuels, and fuels policy.