Massachusetts again beats California as most innovative in US

The Boston Globe | By Michelle Jamrisko and Wei Lu
December 23, 2016

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts is once again at the top of Bloomberg’s ranking of the most innovative states, a testament to how much the economy’s wheels are greased by investment in higher education and research.

California again scored just behind Massachusetts, which gained ground by churning out more science and engineering graduates and producing jobs in those industries even though it had less technology company density than in 2015, according to the data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Bloomberg US Innovation Index scored each of the 50 states on a 0-100 scale across six equally weighted metrics: R&D intensity; productivity; high-tech density; concentration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employment; science and engineering degree holders; and patent activity.

Ranking leader Massachusetts has enjoyed a faster recovery from the last recession than most states and now boasts a 2.9 percent unemployment rate, leaving it tied for second-best in the country. That compares with a 4.6 percent national average.

The secret sauce for the state’s innovation is a potent mix of tax incentives to draw in companies, research partnerships between its big-name universities and local businesses, and the transfer of much of that research into patentable products, said Greg Sullivan, research director at Boston-based Pioneer Institute, a public policy research shop.

“Massachusetts got on very early to the idea of trying to promote itself as an R&D center,” he said. In addition, the reading “just shows the importance of the university cluster in Massachusetts, especially Harvard and MIT.”

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