Though not yet a state, a new report recognized DC as the most innovative state in the country, while its northern neighbor Maryland fell three spots behind in fourth place.
The report of WalletHub, a DC-based financial advisory site, concluded that the district encompasses more economic and technological creativity than any of the current 50 states. Titled The most innovative and least innovative countries of 2022, the study found that DC continues to drive innovation in education, funding, research and new business creation. Meanwhile, Maryland came in at #4 and Virginia at #6 – a testament to the strength of the technology sector across the DMV and beyond – while Massachusetts and Washington state came in at #2 and #3.
To measure rankings, WalletHub compared a number of characteristics within the “Human Capital” and “Innovation Environment” categories. Metrics included the number of STEM graduates, science knowledge output, and eighth-grade math and science achievement in the first category, and invention patents per capita and entrepreneurial activity for the latter. The report ranked states on a 100-point scale, with 100 being most favorable for innovation.
DC scored a total of 76 points and ranked first in Human Capital and second in Innovation Environment. Maryland, whose technology sector includes active medtech scenes in cities like Baltimore and Gaithersburg, achieved a score of 65.01 and ranked fifth and seventh in Human Capital and Innovation Environment, respectively. Virginia’s score of 63.11 landed fourth and tenth in the same categories.
To achieve this overall top spot, DC ranked first in percentage of science and engineering graduates over 25, number of technology companies, research and development spending per capita, and VC funding per capita. It also ranked second in share of STEM professionals and predicts STEM jobs by 2028.
Tian Heong Chanassistant professor Emory University and several scholars whose explanations on regional innovation accompanied the report said that the development of innovative and creativity-enhancing economic hubs can create beneficial downstream effects in surrounding areas.
“Innovation tends to have a significant positive geographic impact (that is, firms, institutions, or individuals in nearby locations benefit from frequent collaboration, sharing of ideas, etc.),” said Chan. “So encouraging/sponsoring some sort of innovation hub (if there are none or few in the state) that can create such positive benefits of collocation would be a good place to start. I also think that having maker spaces or coding spaces where young children can play and tinker with building products/software code is useful to encourage innovation from an early age.”
The report is the latest in boasting rankings for DC and Maryland. In 2021, the district was ranked the 11th best startup ecosystem in the world startup genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Arlington, Virginia and DC also took first and second place, respectively SmartAssetis annual Best Cities for Women in Engineering Report. The universities in Baltimore, Maryland’s largest city, came out on top US News & World Report ranking in the same year. Maryland had also jumped to the front of the field CNBC’s annual ranking of the best states for business.