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Innovation Index: Bay State Leads on Some R&D Scores, But Fed Grants Decline

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$34.2 billion in 2007, reflecting continued growth in the state’s life sciences sector. Meantime, however, sales suffered during that five-year period for software and communications service outfits, dropping from $13.5 billion to $11.7 billion.

—The Bay State ranked first among its peers with 28.8 percent of its total workforce employed in in science-related, technical, and healthcare positions. Despite the growth of the life sciences sector, a scant 1.5 percent of workers in the state were employed in life, physical, or social sciences fields in the commonwealth in 2007. But the state had a 2.7 percent annual growth rate in those fields compared with the U.S. average of .5 percent.

—The startups and other small businesses in the commonwealth reeled in more SBIR [Small Business Innovative Research] funding than any other state in the study in 2006, with $241 million in awards, but that figure actually dropped 16 percent from the year before. Still, the state is attracting funds to commercialize inventions, which bodes well for the innovation ecosystem.

—Massachusetts held on to its lead garnering NIH dollars with $656 in awards per capita. But the amount of NIH funding to the state declined by 2.6 percent annually between 2003 and 2007.

—There was a cautionary statistic on the R&D front: the average high-tech or life sciences company headquartered in the state lowered its total spending on developing new products by 10 percent, from $42.5 million in 2003 to $38.2 million in 2007.

—On drug R&D front, Bay State biotech companies were developing 12 percent of the biotech drugs (such as recombinant protein treatments and cellular therapies) in the U.S. as of July 2008, with a total of 78. But the state lagged behind New Jersey (165), California (157), and Pennsylvania (111).

—Massachusetts just about tied California for first place on the patent-award benchmark, with 5.4 patents per capita in 2007. But the Bay State’s per capita total was down from 6.2 in 2006. (I wrote a story recently about the top 25 patent recipients in the commonwealth.) Twenty-four percent of the patents awarded in the state last year were for healthcare inventions such as new drugs and devices and 21 percent were for computer hardware and software innovations.

—Massachusetts has the highest concentration of adults with bachelor’s degrees or more advanced degrees, 46 percent, of any state in the study. New Jersey was ranked second with 40 percent and Connecticut was ranked third with 39 percent.

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