(NEXSTAR) – When it comes to innovation, not all states are equal, according to a new study ranking all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
WalletHub weighed two major factors – human capital and innovation environment – in their comparison.
Human capital is comprised of STEM professionals, science & engineering graduates, projected STEM-job demand by 2028, among other educational measures, while the innovation environment includes the number of tech companies, patents per capita, average internet speed, number of startups and net migration, among other elements.
“According to the results of the ranking, knowledge and technology outputs are America’s particular strengths,” the study’s authors said in their report. “Some of the biggest innovations the U.S. has produced recently are the COVID-19 vaccines.”
Washington D.C. took the top spot, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, Colorado, Virginia, California, Delaware, New Hampshire and Utah, rounding out the top ten.
The bottom ten states in the study were, in order, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Dakota, Louisiana, and, in last place, Mississippi.
When it comes to inviting innovation, there are things states can do to move up the rankings, experts say.
“State policymakers can encourage innovation by creating a lifelong learning society committed to developing supportive working relationships,” Haleh Karimi, assistant professor management at Bellarmine University told WalletHub. “Innovation happens through engagement, teamwork, and collaboration. Furthermore, having a tax incentive program would also help encourage an innovative society.”
In the coming years, Karimi says she thinks the best skills to have will be a combination of in-demand technical skills and soft skills such as creativity, teamwork, leadership, human connection and more.