Alert planners may be able to leverage the presence of science and industry leaders in a city that they know has expertise in the field they’re in, or they can increase their chances by picking a city already known for innovation.

The real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield said this much in its re-release of its list of top cities for tech innovation (see Tech Cities 2.0 Ebook). Universities are the traditional way of measuring a city’s innovative potential but are included in this year’s report only for their ability to attract venture capital investment and most importantly, spawn a large number of educated, tech and knowledge workers and entrepreneurs who are willing to call the place home.

The new report was released in September of 2018 and still includes a “tech stew” of factors, but again, all them seem to revolve around a city’s ability to raise venture capital and keep a workforce that can generate the ideas needed to do things with all the money.

What does this have to do with convention site selection? Quite a bit – new ideas are not just the driver for growing the economy these days, they are the driver for growing attendance at conferences and trade shows as well.

Top Cities for Innovative Conferences

The number of cities on the list doubled from last year. Added are cities in large metro areas that can’t be overlooked due to their sheer number of educated, tech-employed millennials like New York City and Washington DC. Included for the first time too are some smaller metro areas (cities with populations 500,000+} where tech is pushing the economy and hence wages and office rents upwards. This is certainly the case in Pittsburgh, which did not make the actual list, but was called out in the report as a city to watch.

Raleigh, NC with a metro population 1,304,896 is an example of a smaller city that was included on the list in 2017 and again this year. The smallest place featured this year was Provo, UT with a metro population of just 526,810.

According to the report’s authors, “Provo is the smallest MSA in the Tech 25; however, 10.8% of the jobs in Provo are classified as tech, plus it has the highest millennial population (26.8%) of any market in the report.”

So while New Haven may still offer one of the nation’s top research universities (Yale), the two dozen cities selected as top cities for innovation offer much more. Planners may even be happy to discover that there are folks on the ground eager to make connections for them!

Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau’s, Malinda Harrell, CMP, CASE, Director of Sales said, “When prospecting a piece of business, our research includes how the event ties into one of our key industry clusters and what colleges and universities in the area may have members and or board members involved the organization….or if any have strong programs in or researchers involved with the particular subject matter of the meeting/event.”

 

Top Cities in the USA for Innovative Meetings

     

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