Summary of The Smartest Places on Earth

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8 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

8 Style


Residents can transform languishing rust belt towns into thriving hubs of innovation, according to authors Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker. They depict communities worn down by economic decline that reinvent and revive themselves as “brainbelts.” Community leaders and those who provide adjunct services – attorneys, cultural resources, designers, marketers and investors – will appreciate these local sagas. Inquisitive readers should flip back to the “notes” section, where the authors include data and background materials. This insightful guide is a big hand up for anyone who believes in the productivity of the “multidisciplinary sharing of brainpower,” including entrepreneurs, inventors, higher education administrators, local government officials, and managers or owners of established and start-up companies.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How failing rust belt towns can become revived “brainbelt” towns instead,
  • What types of collaboration yield successful innovation and revitalization, and
  • What stakeholders should consider before embarking on a brainsharing project.

About the Author

Antoine van Agtmael, the principal founder and CEO of Emerging Markets Management, is now senior adviser at the public policy firm Garten Rothkopf. He coined the phrase “emerging markets.” Fred Bakker recently retired from the Dutch financial newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, where he was deputy editor, editor in chief and CEO.



Of Rust Belts and “Brainbelts”

The town of Akron, Ohio, once the world leader in tire manufacturing, suffered as jobs moved overseas. It became a rust belt town, one of many declining “former industrial citadels…hit hard by offshoring.”

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