In “The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation,” Antoine van Agtmael and Fred Bakker argue that economic and technological trends have positioned many older industrial cities in the United States and Northern Europe to thrive once again. In the eyes of van Agtmael (the investment guru who coined the term “emerging markets,” and a trustee and funder of the Brookings Institution) and Bakker (the former editor-in-chief of Holland’s largest financial newspaper), many of these places have the potential to become hotbeds of innovation and advanced manufacturing over the coming decades. Places like Akron, Ohio and Albany, N.Y. in the United States and Eindhoven and Dresden in Europe contain deep industry expertise, world-class research institutions, a spirit of collaboration across disciplines and sectors, and a sense of urgency—the kind that can only come from having hit rock bottom in decades past.

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