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The Smartest Places on Earth: Why Rustbelts Are the Emerging Hotspots of Global Innovation by Fred Bakker, Antoine van Agtmael

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Chapter Three

MAKING A NEW MOVIE OF AN OLD STORY

Dramatic Scenarios of New Materials Development

It didn’t take long for us to come to expect the ubiquitous coffee shops and wine bars, repurposed warehouse spaces, futuristic labs, and robotized fabs that we encountered in the brainbelts we visited. But one of our most striking experiences took place in Akron, Ohio, on that first foray into the American rustbelt.

There, in a trendy restaurant in the renovated downtown area, we sat down with Luis Proenza, president of the University of Akron (he retired soon after our interview in 2014 and became president emeritus). He was not alone. He had invited ...

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