By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Because of intellectual assets across the Volunteer State, Tennesseans frequently think that our ranking as a technology hotspot should be high. After all, from east to west, we have nationally-recognized research entities including: (1) the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the state’s public flagship; (2) Oak Ridge National Laboratory; (3) Vanderbilt University; and (4) St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
That fact, however, is not the case, according to a recent report produced by 24/7 Wall St. The rankings of the most and least innovative states were based on a weighted index of 22 measures, indicative of innovative capacity, created by personal finance website, WalletHub, which published a report, “Most & Least Innovative States,” along with additional “supplementary measures.” A full description of each Wallet Hub measure and its weighting is available here. The additional datapoints included:
- Employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, both overall and as a percentage of overall employment as well as the average annual wage in STEM fields based on Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2021, the most recent period;
- Total venture capital (VC) investment and the total number of venture capital deals by state in 2021 from the National Venture Capital Association; and
- Data on total patents issued in 2020 by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office with the per capita patent figures adjusted using one-year population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey.
So, where did Tennessee rank? It was #40 out of the 50 states, ahead of Southeastern states Kentucky (#42), Arkansas (#46), West Virginia (#47), Louisiana (#49), and Mississippi (#50). The Volunteer State ranked lower than neighbors like Alabama (#34), South Carolina (#31), Georgia (#25), North Carolina (#18), Florida (#17), and Virginia (#5).
What state was ranked at the top? It was Massachusetts.
What were Tennessee’s scores?
- Innovation index score: 33.3 out of 100;
- Employment in STEM fields: 5.1 percent of all workers which ranked 14th lowest (151,010 people total);
- Average annual income in STEM jobs: $82,960 (13th lowest);
- VC investments in 2021: $1.0 billion (25th highest with 124 VC deals total); and
- Patents issued in 2020: 21.4 per 100,000 people, 14th fewest with 1,494 total.
The full report and data on each state can be found here.