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

2/27/09

Massachusetts bested many of its rival states in research and development funding and maintaining a healthy supply of college graduates, but the Bay State is falling behind in several key areas of its innovation economy, according to a new index released today by the quasi-public nonprofit Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC).

The annual report, dubbed the 2008 Index of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy, compared the commonwealth with nine other U.S. states with leading high technology and life sciences sectors such as California and Minnesota. The John Adams Innovation Institute, the research arm of the MTC, based its scores on 20 innovation indicators with data from 2003 through 2007—so we’ll have to wait until next year to see how the economic meltdown impacted the state in 2008.

The index has the attention of some of the top executives and investors in Massachusetts, setting it apart from many of the national indexes compiled outside the state without local input. In fact, this year’s index includes insights from seven figures well known to many Xconomy readers, including Bob Higgins, founder and general partner of Lexington, MA-based Highland Capital Partners and Henri Termeer, the CEO of biotech heavyweight Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ), headquartered in Cambridge, MA.

I reached venture capitalist Higgins after he finished teaching a class on entrepreneurship in life sciences at Harvard Business School this week. Without talking about specific findings in the innovation index, he shared some of his thoughts about the state’s economy, focusing on the fortunes of individual firms.

“I think the best measure of the health of the innovation economy is the success of companies,” Higgins says. “That is a tough measurement tool in the current environment, but I think it’s the right one. In other words, how many companies have been successfully sold, how many companies have become successful public companies—and how does that compare to other regions.”

Indeed, the index has some data on M&A and initial public offerings. We at Xconomy have already covered some of the most recent reports on those topics—including our story about the IPO drought in Massachusetts and nationally last year—but there were some new findings in the MTC’s index about sector growth and the health of the state’s workforce.

Here are some of the highlights and low marks culled from the MTC’s 62-page report:

—Sales skyrocketed for Massachusetts’ biotech and medical devices firms from $18 billion in 2003 to … Next Page »

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