Building a startup or on the hunt for a job at one? It's all happening in The Valley. Or so they say. A WalletHub study on America's most and least innovative states suggests otherwise.
Tech companies and tech talent might consider heading to The District instead. As in, District of Columbia. Our nation's capital came out as the most innovative compared to all 50 states.
WalletHub data scientists evaluated 18 metrics they determined to be factors of a state's innovation. They examined data such as the share of STEM professionals, share of technology companies, research and development spending per capita, venture capital funding per capita and even internet speed.
Fun fact: District of Columbia boasts the nation's fastest average internet speed, but that's not why it took home top honors as most innovative. WalletHub analyzed performance across the 18 metrics, then developed a single innovation index for each of the 50 states and and the District of Columbia.
Washington, D.C. came out on top with highest overall innovation index. The District also scored highest on human capital rank, meaning the region has the highest share of STEM professionals, the highest projected STEM job demand by 2020, and highest share of science and engineering graduates over the age of 25.
Maryland and Massachusetts were other top-performing states as number two and three on the list, respectively. Though D.C. was the overall winner, both Maryland and Massachusetts had higher innovation environment rank scores, which considered the share of technology companies, entrepreneurial activity and tax-friendliness. California came in not far down with the fourth-highest state innovation index.
What states can do to boost their innovation quotient
WalletHub also spoke to panel of economics, technology and education experts for their advice on how states can best foster innovation at a policy level. A commitment to education was a common thread throughout all the expert's responses. Some even stressed the importance of non-technical education to help America keep pace with innovation on a global scale.
"The evidence is quite strong in numerous studies that a broad-based liberal arts education is the most effective way to prepare folks for adapting to a constantly changing world," said Lex McMillan, present of the Albright College. He went on to say that a liberal arts education primes people to solve problems, work well with others and communicate effectively.
Anthony B. Sindone is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Purdue University Northwest and another expert WalletHub spoke to. He encourages policymakers to foster innovation through funding creative arts programs such as music and art. "While we often think of innovation these days as something to do with computers and mobile devices, the creative process is taught in creative arts classed," Sindone said.