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Washington: “The Most Innovative State” according to Bloomberg

iemrzUdf3gK8A new Bloomberg study ranks Washington #1 among the states for innovation.

The study considers six factors: STEM professionals as % of state population; science and tech degree holders as % of population; utility patents granted as % of US total; state government R&D spending as % of US total; gross state product per employed person; three-year change in productivity; and public tech companies as % of all public companies.

Washington is followed (in order) by California, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.  Oregon, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Maryland, and Minnesota round out the top ten.

The associated article extensively quotes UW CSE’s Ed Lazowska:

“The state’s strong engineering roots go back to Boeing Co., the airplane manufacturer that was based in Seattle until 2001 and still has extensive manufacturing operations in the Puget Sound area. The company attracted not just employees but also suppliers to the area, said Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“Microsoft’s 1979 move to the suburbs of Seattle from Albuquerque, New Mexico, attracted computer engineers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as did other area companies such as Aldus Corp., the maker of publishing-software PageMaker. Nintendo Co. chose Redmond, Washington, as its U.S. headquarters, pulling in game developers, Lazowska said.

matt“Former employees of these companies have gone on to found local startups in and around Seattle. The availability of top engineers has attracted technology firms such as Google, Facebook Inc. and Salesforce.com, which have set up large offices in the area.

“‘These companies move here because we, in fact, have a phenomenal workforce,’ Lazowska said.

“Washington state ‘arguably owns the cloud,’ said Lazowska, referring to computing services delivered via the Web that are offered by companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. The area also boasts a strong presence in segments such as data analytics and storage.

“Internet firms such as Zillow Inc. and Expedia Inc. merge the region’s strength in retail – as seen with local companies such as Nordstrom Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. – with technology expertise, Lazowska said …

“While the technology industry benefits the state, residents and lawmakers should have one major concern, said Lazowska – how poorly Washington does educating local students. The economy was built by a labor force educated elsewhere, and Washington rates 49th in the U.S. in the number of students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees from public universities, he said. There aren’t enough spots for university students in areas such as computer science, he said.

“‘It’s a question for the kids that grow up here,’ he said. ‘Are they going to be first-tier participants in this economy, or are they going to be washing people’s cars and selling them cars?'”

The Bloomberg article also quotes Sunny Gupta, CEO of the booming Madrona company Apptio, and before that at Opsware (acquired by HP), iConclude (acquired by Opsware), Mercury Interactive, and Madrona-funded UW CSE startup Performant (acquired by Mercury Interactive):  “‘I am a big believer in the state of Washington,’ said Sunny Gupta, co-founder, president and chief executive officer of software-maker Apptio Inc. in Bellevue, Washington, who said he chose to live in the Seattle region over the San Francisco Bay area. ‘It really comes down to having an incredible network effect, primarily dominated by Microsoft and Amazon but also a lot of great entrepreneurial talent.'”

Slideshow here.

Tabular rankings here.

Full Bloomberg article here.

Bloomberg TV interview with Madrona’s Matt McIlwain here.

GeekWire post here.

December 19, 2013