Top States for Business

America’s top states for innovation in 2016

Hubs for breakthrough thinking

Monty Rakusen | Getty Images

CNBC's Top States for Business study prizes technology and innovation and knows how to nurture them. Our Technology & Innovation category, worth a possible 250 out of 2,500 points, or 10 percent of the total, rates the states on a variety of metrics, including research grants, patents and tech business formation. You can see our complete study and learn more about our methodology here. These are America's 10 most innovative states.

Full coverage of Top States 2016

10. Texas

Aerial view of the Texas Medical Center with skyline of Houston in the background.

Texans are a resourceful bunch — this is the birthplace of the integrated circuit, after all. More recently, Texas was second only to California in patents issued last year. The Texas Medical Center in Houston, the largest medical center in the world, is a magnet for medical research dollars.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 178 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Texas Instruments, AT&T
FY2015 patents issued: 10,553
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 11

9. Minnesota

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Keith Levit | Design Pics | Getty Images

Among the more than 500 National Institutes of Health grants awarded to Minnesota institutions in the past year was a $14 million grant to the Rochester-based Mayo Clinic. The grant was used to further the development of precision medicine, in which treatments are tailored to the individual rather than a hypothetical average patient. It will help fund a national "biobank," enrolling 1 million volunteers to provide a vast resource of biological specimens and medical data.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 179 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: 3M, Medtronic
FY2015 patents issued: 4,755
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 6

8. Colorado

In this handout satellite image provided by NASA, Hurricane Irene is seen at 10:10 a.m., about two hours after it made landfall in Cape Lookout, North Carolina, August 27, 2011 in the Atlantic Ocean.
Getty Images

The $339 million in National Science Foundation grants awarded in Colorado in fiscal 2015 included $1 million to the University of Colorado for EarthCube 1A, which will allow multiple groups to analyze climate data. Colorado has cultivated a unique mix of technology companies in areas ranging from Earth science to defense.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 183 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Lockheed Martin, Level 3
FY2015 patents issued: 3,423
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 5

7. North Carolina

A technician inspects LEDs under a microscope at a Cree facility in Research Triangle Park in Durham, North Carolina.
Jim R. Bounds | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The latest industry to take root in North Carolina's famed Research Triangle Park is clean technology, or cleantech — including alternative energy, smart electricity grids and advanced water systems. The Triangle region is now home to some 350 cleantech companies, working with the three research universities that anchor the Triangle: Duke, the University of North Carolina and North Carolina State.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 185 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Red Hat, SAS
FY2015 patents issued: 3,708
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 10

6. Michigan

A 2016 Chevrolet Camaro moves along the production line at the General Motors Co. (GM) Lansing Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing, Michigan.
Jeff Kowalsky | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Some 89,000 engineers call Michigan home, which the state claims is the largest concentration of engineers of any state. And while Michigan's tech economy is diverse, the automotive industry remains key. Michigan averages one automotive patent every day.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 187 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: General Motors, Ford, Dow Chemical
FY2015 patents issued: 5,970
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 8

5. Maryland

Solar fare
Source: NASA

Researchers at Maryland's Johns Hopkins University are learning to forecast geomagnetic solar storms in the same way meteorologists forecast weather patterns here on Earth. The program, funded by a continuing grant from the National Science Foundation, could help limit the effect of solar activity that could otherwise disrupt power grids for weeks or worse.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 190 out of250 points
Major tech firms: Lockheed Martin, UnitedTherapeutics
FY2015 patents issued: 1,919
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 7

4. New York

The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron System (CHESS) at Cornell University.
Source: CHESS

The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron System — CHESS — is a next-generation particle accelerator at Cornell University in New York that is helping scientific researchers from around the world to learn the origins of matter. CHESS also includes an outreach program promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for the next generation of innovators.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 194 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: IBM, L-3 Communications
FY2015 patents issued: 9,581
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 4

3. Massachusetts

Galit Lahav, rear, gives pointers in her lab at Harvard Medical School to grad student Julia Liu.
John Tlumacki | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Researchers at Harvard Medical School are studying the genetics involved in movement, sleep and memory. The $1.5 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health is attracting experts well beyond Massachusetts to learn the molecular origins of human behavior.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 196 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Raytheon, Boston Scientific
FY2015 patents issued: 7,159
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 3

2. California

El Nino generated storm waves crash onto seaside houses at Mondos Beach, California on January 12, 2016. Californians are now experiencing a super El Nino weather pattern and with 20 percent of the state's residents living on a flood plain, local authorities and some residents are now dealing with flooding and mudslides.
Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

California is more than just the home of Silicon Valley. The state leads the nation in patents, as well as scientific and medical research grants. A $1.8 million National Science Foundation grant is helping civil engineering researchers at the University of California-Berkeley better understand the effects of climate change and how to better protect coastal regions from flooding.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 201 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Apple, Intel, Tesla
FY2015 Patents Issued: 42,960
2015 Technology & Innovation Rank: No. 2

1. Washington

The Columbia Marketing International packing plant in Wenatchee, Washington.
Douglas Graham | Congressional Quarterly | Getty Images

The Washington Technology Industry Association says the state's information technology exports are growing faster than any other state. The home of Microsoft and Amazon is also a hub for agricultural research. Scientists at Washington State University are on the cutting edge of plant genomics and applying what they learn to Washington's important apple and pear crops.

2016 Technology & Innovation score: 212 out of 250 points
Major tech firms: Microsoft, Amazon
FY2015 patents issued: 6,863
2015 Technology & Innovation rank: No. 1