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The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation

The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation

by Antoine van Agtmael, Fred Bakker


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The remarkable story of how rustbelt cities such as Akron and Albany in the United States and Eindhoven in Europe are becoming the unlikely hotspots of global innovation, where sharing brainpower and making things smarter — not cheaper — is creating a new economy that is turning globalization on its head

Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker counter recent conventional wisdom that the American and northern European economies have lost their initiative in innovation and their competitive edge by focusing on an unexpected and hopeful trend: the emerging sources of economic strength coming from areas once known as "rustbelts" that had been written off as yesterday's story.

In these communities, a combination of forces — visionary thinkers, local universities, regional government initiatives, start-ups, and big corporations — have created "brainbelts." Based on trust, a collaborative style of working, and freedom of thinking prevalent in America and Europe, these brainbelts are producing smart products that are transforming industries by integrating IT, sensors, big data, new materials, new discoveries, and automation. From polymers to medical devices, the brainbelts have turned the tide from cheap, outsourced production to making things smart right in our own backyard. The next emerging market may, in fact, be the West.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781610394352
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Publication date: 03/29/2016
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Antoine van Agtmael is a senior adviser at Garten Rothkopf, a public policy advisory firm in Washington, DC. Previously, he was a founder, CEO, and CIO of Emerging Markets Management LLC; a deputy director of the capital markets department of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector oriented affiliate of the World Bank; and a division chief in the World Bank's borrowing operations. He was an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law Center and taught at the Harvard Institute of Politics.

Van Agtmael is chairman of the NPR Foundation, a member of the board of NPR, and chairman of its Investment Committee. He is also a trustee of the Brookings Institution and cochairman of its International Advisory Council. He is on the President's Council on International Activities at Yale University, the Advisory Council of Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Alfred Bakker, until his recent retirement, was a journalist specializing in monetary and financial affairs with Het Financieele Dagblad — the Financial Times of Holland — serving as deputy editor, editor in chief, and CEO. In addition to his writing and editing duties he helped develop the company from a newspaper publisher to a multimedia company, developing several websites, a business news radio channel, and a quarterly business magazine, FD Outlook, and was responsible for the establishment of FD Intelligence.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Introduction: Welcome to the Brainbelt: The People, Places, and Practices That Are Turning Globalization on Its Head 1

Chapter 1 Sharing Brainpower and Smart Manufacturing: How a Rustbelt Becomes a Brainbelt 23

Chapter 2 Connectors Creating Communities: Hives of Innovation in Chips and Sensors 53

Chapter 3 Making a New Movie of an Old Story: Dramatic Scenarios of New Materials Development 93

Chapter 4 White Coats and Blue Collars: Cross-Boundary Collaborations in Bioscience and Medical Devices 131

Chapter 5 A Smarter World: How Brainsharing Can Meet the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century 177

Chapter 6 Awakening the Beauties: Could Your Region Be One of the Smartest Places on Earth? 205

Conclusion: We Meet at the End 253

Acknowledgments 267

Notes 271

Bibliography 291

Index 295

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