By Dave Sebastian
BU News Service
BOSTON — Massachusetts, a hub of higher education and life sciences, was named the most innovative U.S. state in a report released March 18 by personal-finance company WalletHub.
WalletHub analyzed the innovation environments of 50 states and the District of Columbia with 24 indicators, which include the density of tech companies and education metrics. Also topping the innovation ranking are the state of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. The report placed Tennessee, Iowa, West Virginia, Louisiana and Mississippi as the least innovative states.
“Certain states deserve more credit than others for America’s dominance in the tech era,” the report said. “These states continue to grow innovation through investments in education, research and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries.”
Along with California, the District of Columbia and New York, Massachusetts has the highest venture-capital funding per person, the report said. The commonwealth, in a tie with D.C., has the highest research-and-development spending in the country, according to the report.
Massachusetts is also a hotbed for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs, the report found. It has the fourth-largest share of STEM professionals and is slated to have the No. 5 highest STEM job demand by 2020, according to the report.
It’s not surprising that Massachusetts took the top spot in the report, as it has a robust educational infrastructure, said Jeffrey Furman, an associate professor in strategy and innovation at Boston University Questrom School of Business.
“One can look at almost any index of innovation and find Massachusetts to be quite high,” Furman said. “The economy is based in sectors that are heavy investors in innovation.”
Innovation indexes tend to center on STEM-related criteria, Furman said, as “it’s often hard to measure innovation in things that don’t involve research and development.”
“Typically economists refer to innovation as new-to-the-world inventions that are brought to market,” Furman said. “And those often occur in areas that require substantial amounts of research and development.”