Inc.

YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM. SO JOIN THEM

International companies are challenging the primacy of American innovation—which could be less of a problem for U.S. founders than you’d think.

Wilfred Pinfold is not an arrogant guy. But who would have blamed him if, after 23 years at Intel, he considered Silicon Valley’s primacy a given? Then, in 2015, he and three partners launched Urban Systems, a Portland, Oregon–based integrator of smart-city technologies. They had a choice: Work solely with tech firms and cities in the U.S., or go where the action was.

For Urban Systems, the action was in Europe and Asia. Cities there were older, less car-centric, and more open to alternative transportation. The company partnered with startups in Portugal and the U.K. to develop technology that

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