The Smartest Places on Earth | Antoine van Agtmael

Summary of: The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation
By: Antoine van Agtmael

Introduction

Ready for a fascinating journey into the emergence of brainbelts? ‘The Smartest Places on Earth’ by Antoine van Agtmael unveils the dramatic transformation of once struggling rustbelt regions into hotspots of global innovation. The book highlights how industrial cities have bounced back by leveraging collaboration and cross-disciplinary partnerships, along with focusing on specialized knowledge and innovation. You’ll discover how traditional manufacturing is being replaced by smart manufacturing, which drives customization and automation using cutting-edge technologies like 3-D printing and robotics. Get set to explore the significance of research universities, open exchange of knowledge, and other core characteristics of these emerging brainbelts. Additionally, learn about various brainbelt hubs and how they are contributing to overcoming global challenges such as climate change and food scarcity.

From Rustbelts to Brainbelts

Formerly declining industrial areas in the US and Europe are rejuvenating as brainbelts. These regions are being revitalized through the establishment of hubs that unite knowledgeable workers with smart manufacturing. General Electric’s location choice for their production facility is an example of this trend. Batesville, Mississippi’s proximity to Mississippi State University, where researchers work with cutting-edge materials, was key to its selection. Taiwan-based Mediatek’s CFO expressed concerns over the increasingly competitive nature of US firms, with companies like Qualcomm leading the way in research and development.

The Key Characteristics of Brainbelts

Brainbelts are collaborative ecosystems with research universities at their core, surrounded by other institutions such as start-ups, firms, and community colleges. Knowledge and expertise are shared freely to undertake complicated projects, with companies highly specialized to minimize competition. The Oregon Health & Science University and Intel partnership is an excellent example. Brainbelts are open to sharing between sectors, like industry and academia, and between disciplines, like math and biology.

Rise of the Brainbelt

Brainbelts are innovative regions characterized by their focused efforts and smart manufacturing technologies such as 3-D printing and robotics. This summary explores various brainbelts and their emphasis on specific industries, such as semiconductors, biotechnology, and biopharmaceuticals. By investing their energy in just one or two areas, brainbelts are able to achieve significant breakthroughs in their industries, leading to cost-effective automation and customized production using 3-D printing technology. The summary also outlines how robotics allows for cheap and easily automated assistance, with examples such as Baxter, a humanoid robot that can work for 6,500 hours without taking a vacation.

The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Akron, Ohio

Akron, Ohio was once a thriving industrial hub, but the lack of adaptation to emerging competitive threats saw its decline. However, resilience is ingrained in the DNA of the city, as it has continually reinvented itself over the years. Akron shifted its focus to polymer science and new materials, which locals already had skills in, during the dormancy period. This fostered the creation of many new firms, including Akron Polymer Systems, which develops films for solar cell LCD screens. The University of Akron played a central role in this revival too, with President Luis Proenza spearheading the city’s reinvention. The story of Akron, Ohio highlights the importance of adaptation and reinvention to remain competitive in today’s world.

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