galleryMost Innovative States 10.20.10galleryMost Innovative States From California to Virginia, Richard Florida ranks the most innovative states in the country to find out where good ideas are generating economic growth.10.20.10 5:28 PM ETJustin Sullivan / Getty Images,Justin Sullivan1. California INDEX SCORE: 0.941 California brings in the country’s highest gross state product, about $1.8 trillion, and is a leading force in green and sustainable changes—the state is still holding strong on its ban on nuclear energy from the 1970s. The Golden State is also home to the mother-ship of all innovative towns, Palo Alto, which is the hub of the most innovative companies in the country. Companies including Facebook, Amazon, and Google are headquartered in the Nor-Cal town.Jewel Samad, AFP / Getty Images,JEWEL SAMAD2. MassachusettsINDEX SCORE: 0.922 Massachusetts has a deep history of innovation. Years ago, Route 128 was dubbed America’s Technology Highway and it remains as a timeline of the various IT companies that came and left New England. The northeastern state was home to the Digital Equipment Corporation until 1998 and is the center for Raytheon, one of the country’s top ten defense contractors. Business aside, Massachusetts is one of the leading states in the race to create energy from landfill and waste. John Miller / AP Photo,John Miller3. Idaho INDEX SCORE: 0.912 Don’t be fooled by the Gem State. The wide mountainous spaces and greenery from the Snake River provide ample resources for the booming industries of wind and geothermal energy, so much so the state is grabbing the attention of energy powerhouses like California. In addition to wind power, Idaho also provides 25 percent of the country’s semiconductors, which last year totaled $2.6 billion in exports.Ted S. Warren / AP Photo,Ted S. Warren4. Washington INDEX SCORE: 0.873 Bill and Melinda Gates’ home state is appropriately innovative with companies such as Starbucks, Costco, and Microsoft anchored in Washington. Fortune magazine’s Most Admired Companies have several Washington-based businesses including Nordstrom, Boeing, and REI. The state is also houses five major hydroelectric refining plants and is applauded for being the leader in hydroelectric power. Jack Dempsey / AP Photo,Jack Dempsey5. ColoradoINDEX SCORE: 0.863 Colorado uses its ample supply of agriculture, specifically corn, to create the most ethanol energy than any other state in the country. Boulder is also housing more semiconductor start-ups and has increased job opportunities in the last few years, according to the Colorado Technology Association. It is the top natural-gas producing state, but surprisingly does not use that much of its natural resources. The state is a major hub of energy transportation between the west and the Midwest.6. ConnecticutINDEX SCORE: 0.824 Though small in size, Connecticut plays a major role in environmental and technological advancements. A national study shows that Connecticut is one of the few states that require drivers to have a blend of ethanol and regular gasoline in their vehicles for lower emissions. THOMAS WHISENAND7. MinnesotaINDEX SCORE: 0.804 This state is a triple threat in terms of its energy use. Minnesota’s energy production includes wind, nuclear, and natural gas. The state was the first to require a blend of ethanol and gasoline for its vehicles. And in addition to housing Cargill, the largest private company in the U.S., Minnesota also has a major nuclear plant that powers 25 percent of the state. Tim Roske8. VermontINDEX SCORE: 0.804 Low energy consumption combined with a fertile environment for small business makes Vermont a hotbed of innovation. The state has the fifth lowest unemployment rate and is well-known for its Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream company headquartered in Waterbury. The brand recently introduced a new hydrocarbon freezer that avoids harming the ozone layer.Mike Cherim9. New HampshireINDEX SCORE: 0.794 New Hampshire had only one Fortune 500 company listed in 2009 and this year that number is down to zero. Collaborations between the state and the University of New Hampshire are aiming to combat this downturn by funding grants to small businesses. And while its business innovation has taken a plunge in the last decade, the state is applauded for its low energy consumption. Mike Derer10. New JerseyINDEX SCORE: 0.784 The country’s largest and most notorious petroleum refinery state has surprising innovations when it comes to the environment and technology. Its best asset is its location—a direct neighbor to the most commuted city in the country—but the southern half of the state also has ample farmlands which produced approximately $1 billion worth of agricultural products. New Jersey also hosts 18 Fortune 500 companies including Johnson & Johnson and Honeywell International.William F. Sutton / AFP / Getty Images ,WILLIAM F. SUTTON11. Oregon INDEX SCORE: 0.784 Oregon has had to compensate for the loss of its manufacturing industry by taking on some innovative ideas. The state is home to the nation’s largest solar manufacturer, is one of only a handful of states to adopt CO2 emissions targets, and also has a growing bioscience involved in research and development. Aude Guerrucci-Pool / Getty Images,Pool12. Maryland INDEX SCORE: 0.745 Maryland ranks third in State New Economy Index, a ranking by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation that measures how well states are performing in the innovation economy. The state has a bustling biotechnology industry, helped in part by state grants and Johns Hopkins University, one of the largest research centers in the world. Tim Sloan / Getty Images ,TIM SLOAN13. Delaware INDEX SCORE: 0.716 Delaware once was a leader in mechanical innovation, and in recent years has pushed to make biotechnology innovation a top priority. The state is also home to several non-profits such as the Delaware Innovation Fund and First State Innovation, dedicated to giving investment funds to high technology companies in Delaware. Additionally, the University of Delaware will be holding a forum on innovation and entrepreneurship in April 2011.George Frey / Bloomberg via Getty Images ,Bloomberg14. Utah INDEX SCORE: 0.716 While Utah does not have as high an income bracket as some other innovative states, it has no shortage of dynamic ideas. The state has been holding the Utah Innovation Awards for the past eight years, and in 2010, there were 120 applicants for the honor, suggesting imaginative ideas have a home in the Beehive State.Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images ,ROBYN BECK15. Arizona INDEX SCORE: 0.696 Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano established the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology in 2003 to bring more innovative ideas to the state, and since then, it has focused primarily on opening its arms to technology-related businesses. The state’s investment has paid off: Intel announced they will be investing billions of dollars to upgrade a plant in Arizona to create its new 22-nanometer processors. DONNA MCWILLIAM16. TexasINDEX SCORE: 0.696 Texas has always been known for its energy production, and although oil and petroleum still reign as giants in industry, the state is a leader in renewable energy resourses and produces the most windpower in the nation. Texas’s capital, Austin, and its third-largest city, Dallas, are both known for their technology industry—Austin is nicknamed “Silicon Hills” and north Dallas is called “Silicon Prairie.” Paul Sancya / AP Photo,Paul Sancya17 MichiganINDEX SCORE: 0.686 Michigan has had to reinvent itself in recent years after the death of the motor industry in Detroit. But the state ranks third nationally in terms of high-tech employment, and Michigan has been dedicated to finding jobs in alternative energy and the advanced manufacturing industry. Additionally, Michigan’s three public universities attract more than $1.5 billion in grants for innovative ideas. Charles Dharapak / AP Photo,Charles Dharapak18. VirginiaINDEX SCORE: 0.676 President Obama recognized Virginia’s commitment to innovative ideas when he nominated Aneesh Paul Chopra as the nation’s Chief Technology Officer—Chopra had previously served as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology, and Chopra is considered one of the major proponents of Virginia’s innovation agenda. Virginia also has the highest concentration of technology workers in the country, with one in 11 workers in that industry. Reed Hoffman / AP Photo,REED HOFFMANN19. KansasINDEX SCORE: 0.657 Although Kansas has a reputation for being an agricultural state, Kansas State University has created the Kansas Ag Innovation Center to help bring some innovative solutions to an old industry. As for innovative ideas in industry, Kansas also is home to Boeing and several other aerospace companies. PR Newsphoto20. New York20. New York INDEX SCORE: 0.637 The New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) has been dedicated to creating public and private partnerships to help advance innovation. New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced on October 20 that they would be entering a partnership to allow city employees to use Microsoft’s cloud applications—paving the way to have the city’s workers use one of the most country’s most innovative new programs.