Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley still get most of the attention now, but a slew of unexpected cities are aiming to give those areas some serious start-up competition.

Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado, for example, believes that his state has what it takes to become the country's next technology hub. On Wednesday he announced a partnership with prominent state business leaders to create a $150 million venture fund supporting entrepreneurship.

Of course, it's no secret that Boulder, Colorado, is home to a booming tech industry; the city boasts satellite offices for companies like Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM as well as the accelerator TechStars Boulder and a growing start-up community. It's a prime location for young people and entrepreneurs, Hickenlooper says.

"I think every community is competing [with Silicon Valley]," Hickenlooper told Venture Beat on Wednesday, citing the Colorado Rockies, a progressive public education system, and great music venues as reasons for techies to ditch the Bay Area and move east.

But maybe he shouldn't count those chickens just yet.

Last month, the Brookings Institute released a series of data on patenting that suggests there might be underrated innovation hubs--like Boulder--all over the country.

According to Brookings' patent and innovation research, cities like San Jose, San Francisco, and New York still produce more patents than anywhere else in the United States--San Jose alone receives an average of 9,237 patents per year. But underdogs like Burlington, Vermont; Rochester, Minnesota; and Corvallis, Oregon produce more patents per million residents than the traditional tech hubs.

In other words, these smaller metro areas have higher patent-to-resident ratios than the big cities. Burlington produces an average of 3,951 patents per million residents in a year. San Francisco? Only 1,638.

In the research, the Brookings Institute suggests that the presence of nearby research universities, a scientifically-educated workforce, and collaborative values may all play a role in a community's proclivity to innovation.

Plus, starting up outside of Silicon Valley could mean less competition--and more funding--for your business.

So if you're planning to launch a technology company, perhaps you should heed Hickenlooper's advice and consider moving to Boulder--but don't forget to check out Burlington, Rochester, and Corvallis while you're at it.