Innovation is a principal driver of U.S. economic growth. In 2019, the U.S. will spend an estimated $581 billion on research and development — more than any other country in the world and about 25% of the world’s total — helping the nation rank No. 6 on the Global Innovation Index. According to the results of the ranking, knowledge and technology outputs are America’s particular strengths.

But certain states deserve more credit than others for America’s dominance in the tech era. These states continue to grow innovation through investments in education, research and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries.

In order to recognize the nation’s biggest contributors, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 24 key indicators of innovation-friendliness. Our data set ranges from share of STEM professionals to R&D spending per capita to tech-company density. Read on for our findings, commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.

Main Findings

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Most Innovative States

Overall Rank*

State

WalletHub State Innovation Index

‘Human Capital’ Rank

‘Innovation Environment’ Rank

1 Massachusetts 72.31 2 1
2 Washington 68.03 4 3
3 District of Columbia 67.47 1 17
4 Maryland 64.06 5 7
5 Colorado 63.35 6 4
6 California 62.04 7 2
7 Virginia 61.87 3 15
8 Utah 57.84 8 5
9 Delaware 55.63 9 6
10 Oregon 53.82 12 8
11 New Hampshire 49.52 17 9
12 New Jersey 49.46 11 18
13 Minnesota 48.90 15 16
14 Connecticut 48.13 10 22
15 Texas 47.58 18 14
16 Arizona 47.25 21 10
17 New Mexico 46.61 20 11
18 Florida 45.84 22 12
19 Michigan 45.79 13 24
20 New York 43.34 30 19
21 North Carolina 42.77 25 20
22 Vermont 42.66 14 33
23 Idaho 42.20 26 21
24 Rhode Island 41.71 16 29
25 Georgia 40.58 29 23
26 Illinois 39.63 19 38
27 Nevada 39.25 44 13
28 Indiana 38.93 32 26
29 Pennsylvania 38.18 27 30
30 Wisconsin 37.03 31 37
31 Montana 36.71 34 25
32 Ohio 36.66 28 39
33 Alaska 34.94 23 47
34 Maine 34.92 24 48
35 Missouri 34.91 36 28
36 Wyoming 34.87 38 27
37 Kansas 34.14 35 34
38 South Carolina 34.11 33 35
39 Oklahoma 32.70 41 31
40 Alabama 32.69 39 36
41 Arkansas 30.97 37 45
42 Nebraska 30.69 40 41
43 South Dakota 30.26 45 40
44 Kentucky 30.06 43 42
45 Hawaii 29.72 42 44
46 North Dakota 29.40 49 32
47 Tennessee 28.54 48 43
48 Iowa 28.11 46 46
49 West Virginia 27.06 47 51
50 Louisiana 21.89 50 49
51 Mississippi 19.13 51 50

*1=Most Innovative
 

artwork-2019-most-innovative-states-final

Ask the Experts

To help struggling local economies become more like successful tech-centric cities, we turned to a panel of experts for advice on stimulating innovation. Click on the experts’ profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:

  1. How can state policymakers encourage and facilitate innovation?
  2. What can policymakers do to assist those who may lose their jobs or otherwise be displaced by innovation across industries?
  3. What skills best prepare individuals to be competitive in a changing economic landscape?
  4. Which states/ cities have the most chances to get other half of Amazon’s HQ2 now?
  5. In evaluating the best states for innovation, what are the top five indicators?

Methodology

In order to determine the most and least innovative states, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, “Human Capital” and “Innovation Environment.”

We evaluated those dimensions using 24 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for innovation.

We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its “State Innovation Index” and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Human Capital – Total Points: 50

  • Share of STEM Professionals: Double Weight (~14.29 Points)
  • Share of Science & Engineering Graduates: Full Weight (~7.14 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of science- and engineering-degree holders aged 25 years and older per total degree holders in the same age group.
  • Projected STEM-Job Demand by 2020: Full Weight (~7.14 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the projected number of STEM jobs by 2020 per total jobs.
  • Scientific-Knowledge Output: Full Weight (~7.14 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the number of peer-reviewed articles published per $1 Million of Academic S&E research and development.
  • Eighth-Grade Math & Science Performance: Full Weight (~7.14 Points)
  • AP Exam Participation: Full Weight (~7.14 Points)
    Note: This metric measures the percentage of public high-school students in the graduating class who completed one or more Advanced-Placement exams at any point in high school.

Innovation Environment – Total Points: 50

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Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Economic Innovation Group, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Gust.com, Tax Foundation, Consumer Technology Association, Microbrand Media, U.S. Cluster Mapping Project, Education Commission of the States and National Venture Capital Association.

Image: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

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