Silicon Valley continues to lead and innovate, but staying on top won’t be easy

Silicon Valley continues to lead and innovate, but staying on top won’t be easy

SVCIP ReportSilicon Valley is still the leader among the nation’s innovation capitals in terms of prevalence of technology jobs and worker productivity – but the region’s excellence is not without vulnerability. That is the message from a newly updated Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project report, published in early March by SVCF and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. The study compared Silicon Valley to innovation hubs New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle and Austin, as well as to international regions for some key measures. 

The SVCIP report found that while innovation industry jobs made up 25 percent of Silicon Valley’s jobs – a higher percentage than in any other area studied – the valley is not keeping pace with Seattle, New York City and Boston when it comes to conferring undergraduate and graduate degrees in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It also lags those areas in terms of increasing local research and development spending. 

In addition, too many Silicon Valley students lack proficiency in mathematics, a factor that will affect the region’s long-term ability to nurture home-grown talent to fill innovation economy jobs. Overall, 51 percent of 8th grade students did not meet the grade-level standards in mathematics in 2015. Among black and Latino students, the outcomes are even worse – 80 percent of black students and 79 percent of Latino students did not meet the new state standard for math proficiency. 

Currently, 58 percent of the region’s STEM workers are foreign-born, and more residents of Silicon Valley are coming here from abroad than from other parts of the United States. 

And did you know that Silicon Valley residents spent 14 percent more time stuck in traffic in 2014 than in 2010? While the Silicon Valley economy has boomed, traffic congestion has worsened and home prices have boomed.

Graphic from page 19 of the SVCIP report. Click the image to view a larger version.

Housing Costs

These factors make it more likely that some innovative companies will choose to locate their headquarters in other regions rather than Silicon Valley. The answer? Continued emphasis on public policy efforts to keep the valley competitive from both business and quality-of-life standpoints, said Emmett Carson, CEO of SVCF. 

“We still struggle with rising housing prices and severe transportation issues that cause many people to leave the area,” Carson said in SVCF’s joint press release with SVLG. “We will keep pushing for public policy leaders to address these and other issues so that Silicon Valley will remain both the world’s center of innovation and a great place for all to call ‘home’.”

To see an executive summary or read the full SVCIP report, visit