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The Geography of Innovation?


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Feb 22, 2019

The Geography of Innovation?

An interesting question was posed on – do most innovators come from cities, suburbs, or rural areas?  The initial question was concerning school funding and STEM. A scientist noticed most STEM programs are simply assembling engineered pieces of a puzzle rather than truly teaching the art of innovation by creating something from nothing & making lots of mistakes.  The argument being true innovation comes from a broad knowledge base, curiosity, & the grit to push through barriers to create something new that wasn’t done before – as opposed to following instructions to put together a wind-up radio with pieces that neatly go together.  I believe there are large benefits to STEM programs, one being the introduction of new ideas & concepts to students.

This then led to the question of whether well-funded schools produce better thinkers and problem solvers than poorly-funded schools – this then led to the overall question of where do most innovative minds come from;

So I began mapping where 48 innovators spent the majority of their childhood – not where they were born - for example Sergey Brin (Google) was born in Moscow but moved to Adelphi, Maryland when he was 6. This list starts with the innovations created post 1900 and is by no means definitive. It includes the obvious innovators and less-known creators such as Dr. Charles Drew the inventor of the blood transfusion and Ole Kirk Christiansen the inventor of Legos.  For good measure I included Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie.  I would like to continue growing this map so please help me poke holes in this - if you have any names that should be included let me know as well as any questions or comments that can help solidify the data.

30 were raised in rural areas, 6 in suburbs, & 12 in cities. The interactive map allows you to click on a pin to view the details.

The names in no particular order:
King Camp Gillette, Nikola Tesla, Milton Hershey, Ransom Eli Olds, William Kellogg, George Washington Carver, Marie Curie, Joshua Lionel Cowen, Willis Haviland Carrier, Albert Einstein, Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Philo Farnsworth, Alexander Fleming, Ruth Wakefield, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Dr. Charles Drew, Coco Chanel, Alan Turing, Enrico Fermi, Percy Spencer, Charles Schulz, Igor Sikorsky, Ole Kirk Christiansen, Howard Hughes, Bill Hewlett, David Packard, Jonas Salk, Brownie Wise, Hedy Lamarr, Stephanie Kwolek, Jay Forrester, Marcian Hoff, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, James Clark, Mark Andreessen, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Ev Williams, Mark Zuckerberg, Otto Hahn, Steve Case


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