The Urban Concentration of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Agricultural and Natural Resource Industries

  • Ghulam SamadEmail author
  • Gregory D. Graff
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


This study draws on detailed information on inventor address from 34,196 patented biotechnology inventions, made in the United States between 1970 and 2010, as indicators of innovation and entrepreneurship in three largely rural industries—(1) agriculture, (2) bioenergy, and (3) environment. Three approaches (mapping, Moran I, and negative binomial panel regression analysis) are used to analyze the spatial distribution of patented inventions by region, to identify the density of inventions overall as well as the space–time dynamics of invention cumulativeness. We find these inventions have been spatially concentrated in about 30 major metropolitan clusters, and that spatial distribution has remained remarkably stable over time. Factors of population and earnings are unsurprisingly correlated with invention counts. However, farm proprietor income is also positively related to the number of invention counts, suggesting that more linkages and spillovers within the industry lead to more opportunity for inventions. Significant policy implications include the distribution of public research funding, technology transfer strategies, regional collective action for fostering (largely urban) entrepreneurship for (largely rural) industries, and the actual roles and impacts of (again urban) innovation in these industries on commonly held policy objectives for rural economic development. There are also important implications from the extent to which (urban) innovators and (rural) producers in these industries are not intimately colocated.


Patent Agriculture Environment Biotechnology Innovation Agglomeration Urban Rural 



We thank Brooke Childers for excellent research assistance, and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade for help with data and conceptual development of the arguments in this paper. All errors and omissions are solely the responsibility of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agricultural and Resource EconomicsColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Degree Program in EcologyColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Fellow, Regional Economic Development InstituteColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  4. 4.Fellow, International Science and Technology Policy and PracticeUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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