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When we think of tech, we think Silicon Valley. But that could change. Places like Omaha, Nebraska and Philadelphia are becoming promising areas for startups to develop and grow. In this series, we’re looking for cities that might become home to the next big thing.


Becoming a region known for innovation doesn't necessarily have to mean becoming Silicon Valley. 

Various places throughout the U.S. are gaining momentum in the tech world by focusing on specific areas of high-tech, often because of legacy industries or nearby university programs. Experts say we're entering an era where cities are taking advantage of what makes them unique. 

"You see a lot of activity in these regions with historical expertise. People are becoming more entrepreneurial in general," said Sean Ammirati, a partner at Birchmere Ventures, which helps build high-growth tech companies, and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University.

For example: Omaha, Nebraska, which has a long history of farming and now has companies building tech specifically geared to help farmers at their jobs.

Emily Cox Pahnke, a professor at the University of Washington, said it makes sense that cities like these would be well-equipped to come up with ways to tackle issues in industries they're familiar with.

"Entrepreneurship is really about solving problems that's compelling to other people to pay for those solutions," she noted.  "And people have the best understanding of problems that they have faced."

There are other ingredients that have led certain cities to become potential tech hubs and specialize in an industry. Some cities house strong research centers and universities that provide them with the brain power to compete in a given sector, like Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, which has one of the world's strongest robotics facilities.  

Based on input from experts in the field, here are some cities showing strengths in specific sectors. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments. Plus: tell us if your city is becoming an established tech hub and what it's becoming known for. 

Icons by Abdo, Aneeque Ahmed, b farias, Hopkins, Oksana Latysheva and Aleksandr Vector via the Noun Project. 

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