The Best States for Science and Tech: All 50 States Ranked

The United States has long held the status as one of the most innovative countries in the world. This fact can be in part attributed to public funding of research and development projects. The U.S. federal government spends well over $100 billion on R&D, every year. Similarly, the private sector as well is a major engine for innovation, from companies on the Fortune 500 down to small start-ups. Amazon alone spent over $60 billion on R&D last fiscal year, a larger total than the GDPs of many small countries.

Many key indicators reveal that much of the innovation that takes place in the U.S. is concentrated in certain parts of the country. Using an innovation index created by personal finance website WalletHub in its report report Most & Least Innovative States, 24/7 Wall St. listed all 50 states in order from least innovative to most. The WalletHub index ranks states based on multiple measures indicative of innovation – including patents issued, venture capital funding, entrepreneurship, and employment in STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math fields. We included some additional data, such as employment in STEM, venture capital investment, and patents issued, using different sources. (Here are 20 ancient inventions we still use today.)

Many of the most innovative states are coastal, located along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These places are often notable for their high concentration of large research universities, in addition to being home to major employers in industries ranging from defense to information technology. (Here is a look at 30 inventions that shaped military history.) 

Jobs in STEM fields in these states tend to be higher paying than STEM jobs in states that rank lower on this list. In each of the five least innovative states, for example, the average annual salary among STEM workers is less than $85,000, while in each of the five most innovative states, the average STEM salary exceeds $100,000.

Click here to see the best and worst states for science and tech.

Click here to see our detailed methodology.

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