An environment for innovation is crucial to becoming a top state for business but the right technological infrastructure must also be in place to support and attract businesses.
As part of our annual study, America’s Top States for Business, we grade states on several criteria in this important category of Technology & Innovation.
States were evaluated on their support for innovation, the number of patents that were issued to their residents, deployment of broadband services and the number of high-tech businesses that were formed.
Also considered was how much each state received in federal health and science research grants, which tend to spawn private-sector applications.
All of the states ranked in the top ten in 2012 are at the cutting edge of ingenuity and the road to a more connected, yet wireless, world. This year, you may be surprised by some of the states that joined the usual leaders.
Click ahead to see this year’s rankings, as well as those of 2011 and 2010 for all the states mentioned.
By Cadie Thompson, Technology Editor, CNBC.com
Posted 10 July 2012
2011 Ranking: 10
2010 Ranking: 8
Among the top states for research grants from the National Institutes of Health, Maryland also boasts technological infrastructure, including availability of broadband services that are in the top tier of states.
Maryland is home to a broad range of innovative companies including Broadsoft, a software provider to the telecom industry; Lockheed Martin, an aerospace and defense company; Human Genome Sciences, a pharmaceutical company; and Micros Systems, a hardware and software manufacturer.
2011 Ranking: 12
2010 Ranking: 11
North Carolina is one of the top states in receiving medical and science grants. Along with Maryland, it was among the top recipients of National Institute of Health (NIH) grant dollars.
North Carolina also received some of the most grants from the National Science Foundation.
The state also made the top 10 in terms of connectivity.
Software companies LEAD Technologies and SAS Institute have their headquarters in North Carolina, as well as Applied Science International, a company that provides advanced engineering design and analysis software to multiple government entities.
2011 Ranking: 14
2010 Ranking: 12
Colorado made its way into the top ten this year, thanks to an increase in the number of scientific research grants it received.
The state, home to Qwest Communication, also ranked as one of the top states for high-tech business formation. However, Colorado ranked near the middle range for number of medical research grants and for connectivity.
2011 Ranking: 3
2010 Ranking: 3
Although one of the most technologically-advanced states, Massachusetts took a hit in our rankings this year because of a slowdown in high-tech business formation.
Still, the state still has a wide range of innovative companies, including biotechnology firms such as Genzyme, medical equipment maker Boston Scientific, aerospace and defense contractor Raytheon and robot maker iRobot.
Massachusetts is ranked in the top five though in research grants and in broadband deployment.
2011 Ranking: 5
2010 Ranking: 5
Another leader in medical research grants and broadband connectivity, Washington maintained its fifth-place ranking this year.
Washington, home to tech giant Microsoft, performed respectably in terms of high tech business formation, and ranked in the top five states for number of awarded patents.
Seattle is well known as the home of major internet companies including Amazon, Classmates.com and Zillow.com, but new tech companies are opening in the state capital as well as other parts of the state.
2011 Ranking: 7
2010 Ranking: 6
Tying for fifth place with Washington, the Keystone State moved up two spots from 2011.
Pennsylvania ranked among the top five in medical research grants and the top 10 for broadband connectivity. Pennsylvania finished outside the top 10 for business tech formation.
Pennsylvania is the headquarters of both large and small tech firms, including computer software company NextGen Healthcare Information Systems, and 3D laser-scanning company Quantapoint. Gigmax, a startup founded in 2010 that provides data backup and other services via its application, is also based in the state.
2011 Ranking: 6
2010 Ranking: 14
"The Land of Lincoln" ranks in the top five states for the number of National Science Foundation grants received and for broadband deployment.
Illinois also is one of the top ten states awarded the most patents. Some tech companies based out of Illinois include Groupon, Orbitz and CareerBuilder.
2011 Ranking: 1
2010 Ranking; 1
This year, California lost its reign as the leading state in technology.
Home to Silicon Valley and some of the largest technology companies —Intel, Facebook, Google and Apple — California slipped to the number-three spot because of a slowdown in high-tech business formation.
The Golden State still claimed the top spot, however, for most patents awarded and the most research grant money. The state also has the top-ranked broadband connectivity.
2011 Ranking: 4
2010 Ranking: 4
An influx in medical research funding and an increase in high-tech businesses helped boost the Lone Star State to the number two spot this year.
Texas, home to companies including Dell, Texas Instruments and AT&T, came in second though behind California as the most-connected state and the number of awarded patents.
The state’s capital, Austin, has also gained traction as one of the start-up hubs of the nation.
2011 Ranking: 2
2010 Ranking: 2
New York knocked California out of the top spot in 2012.
Home to Silicon Alley, New York is the second biggest recipient of scientific research grants. It also ranks third for medical research, total patents awarded and connectivity.
New York City has also gained ground as a hot bed for a new generation of Internet start-ups, and has also attracted major tech giants such as Google and Facebook. The state has long been home to IBM’s headquarters.