Wednesday, September 22, 2021

California ranked as No. 3 state for innovation, says survey

“The survey states” looks at various rankings and scorecards looking at geographic locations, noting that these grades are best viewed as a mix of art and data.

Discussion: California ranks No. 3 for innovation when you consider the national scorecard for cutting-edge business activity.

Source: My Trusty Spreadsheet compiled its own index at the state level using four recent “most innovative” rankings and the long-term increase in patent filings by state.

Top Line

My tally was relatively simple math — a ranking based on the state average grade of each from innovation benchmarks that weigh everything from idea creation to technology employment to entrepreneurial infrastructure.

This calculation told me that even in the era of the economy-chilling pandemic, only two states scored higher than California on this innovation overall criterion — Massachusetts and Washington State. Just behind the Golden State were Utah and Colorado.

As a reminder, the Boston area was a computing powerhouse when Silicon Valley was just taking off — and today the area is a med-tech hotspot. Note the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna, a company based in Cambridge – the home of Harvard and MIT.

And like Washington, California, aerospace built on smarts (think Boeing) to become computing tech savvy (think Microsoft and Amazon, for example).

Mississippi was most deficient with innovation on this collective scorecard, followed by West Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Oh, I apologize without mentioning California’s two big economic competitors: Texas ranked 11th and Florida ranked 22nd.


Four innovation leaderboards and a key idea-generation metric on who’s best and who’s worst got a lot of consensus in my spreadsheet.

Milken Institute: its “Benchmarks for Evaluation of Knowledge Economies“Massachusetts ranks No. 1, then Colorado, California, Maryland and Washington. Mississippi was last, then West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nevada. Major competitors? Texas at No. 16 and Florida at No. 33.

Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: its “new economy index“The ranks put Massachusetts No. 1, then California, Utah, Maryland and Washington. Worst? Mississippi, then Arkansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Hawaii. Texas? No. 14. Florida? No. 22.

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WalletHub: its review”Indicators of innovation-friendliness“Massachusetts was ranked as No. 1 followed by Washington, Maryland, Virginia and Colorado. Worst? Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, West Virginia and Arkansas. Texas? No. 16. Florida? No. 19.

CNBC: its innovation piece “Top States for Business” Scorecard California is number 1 followed by Maryland and Massachusetts (tie) followed by Minnesota and Washington (tie). worst? Nevada, then West Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Dakota. Texas? No. 12. Florida? Number 28.

Patent enhancement: It has a historical perspective – St. Louis Fed’s patent numbers granted for 2010 v. 2000. It showed Washington No. 1 with 113% more approvals over the past decade. It was followed by Utah at 105%; Wyoming at 95%; Nevada at 93%; and Arkansas at 90%. California? No. 7 with an increase of 87 percent. Below? Idaho, down 36%; then Vermont, down 6%; Delaware, up 3%; West Virginia, up 10% and Mississippi, up 15%. Texas? Up 67% — No. 13. Florida? Up 61% – No. 15.

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ground level

California remains a national leader in break-the-mold thinking – from the tech wizards of Silicon Valley through to the entertainment creators of Hollywood to the biotech hub of San Diego.

This out-of-the-box mindset is a hugely beneficial workplace skill that allows the state to survive, if not flourish, despite the many challenges it faces. And innovation was a key economic driver as the coronavirus cooled and transformed the economy.

One wonders, however, whether California’s innovation-winning streak will continue. And why can’t these pioneering smarts be deployed to fix some of the state’s major headaches?

PS: To my frequent readers who have seen my recent columns South Dakota’s governor and his gourd beef with California, I’ll note that my index ranks his state at number 36 for innovation.

Jonathan Lancer is a business columnist for Southern California Newsgroup. He can be contacted at [email protected]

California ranked as No. 3 state for innovation, says survey
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