The 10 most (and least) innovative states in America in 2018

States that top the list invest most in education, research, and business creation.

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  • Massachusetts, Maryland, and Washington are the three most innovative states in America in 2018. -- WalletHub, 2018
  • Mississippi, Louisiana, and West Virginia are the three least innovative states in America in 2018. -- WalletHub, 2018

Innovation is a key driver of US economic growth, but not all states innovate equally, according to a Wednesday report from WalletHub.

In 2018, the US will spend an estimated $553 billion on research and development--more than any other country in the world, and over 25% of the world's total, according to WalletHub--leading the nation to rank no. 4 on the Global Innovation Index, the report noted.

Some states have grown innovation by investing in education, research, and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries, according to WalletHub, while others have not done quite as much in this realm.

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

WalletHub examined 22 indicators of innovation across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. These indicators fell into two categories: Human capital (such as share of STEM professionals and graduates, projected STEM job demand, number of peer-reviewed articles published, and AP exam participation) and innovation environment (such as share of tech companies, R&D spending per capita, invention patents per capita, entrepreneurial activity, and average internet speed). Each of these were given a score out of 100, to determine the most and least innovative states.

Here are the 10 most innovative states of 2018:

1. Massachusetts

Innovation index score: 73.04

Human capital rank: 1

Innovation environment rank: 2

2. Maryland

Innovation index score: 63.53

Human capital rank: 2

Innovation environment rank: 6

3. Washington

Innovation index score: 67.69

Human capital rank: 4

Innovation environment rank: 3

4. District of Columbia

Innovation index score: 66.09

Human capital rank: 3

Innovation environment rank: 11

5. California

Innovation index score: 65.37

Human capital rank: 7

Innovation environment rank: 1

6. Colorado

Innovation index score: 64.38

Human capital rank: 6

Innovation environment rank: 4

7. Virginia

Innovation index score: 60.23

Human capital rank: 5

Innovation environment rank: 18

8. Utah

Innovation index score: 54.85

Human capital rank: 12

Innovation environment rank: 5

9. Delaware

Innovation index score: 52.34

Human capital rank: 11

Innovation environment rank: 7

10. Oregon

Innovation index score: 50.34

Human capital rank: 17

Innovation environment rank: 8

Here are the 10 least innovative states of 2018:

1. Mississippi

Innovation index score: 19.32

Human capital rank: 51

Innovation environment rank: 48

2. Louisiana

Innovation index score: 21.48

Human capital rank: 50

Innovation environment rank: 50

3. West Virginia

Innovation index score: 22.40

Human capital rank: 49

Innovation environment rank: 51

4. Arkansas

Innovation index score: 25.99

Human capital rank: 45

Innovation environment rank: 49

5. Tennessee

Innovation index score: 27.81

Human capital rank: 46

Innovation environment rank: 44

6. Iowa

Innovation index score: 28.26

Human capital rank: 43

Innovation environment rank: 43

7. Kentucky

Innovation index score: 28.40

Human capital rank: 44

Innovation environment rank: 42

8. Hawaii

Innovation index score: 29.56

Human capital rank: 37

Innovation environment rank: 46

9. Nebraska

Innovation index score: 29.67

Human capital rank: 40

Innovation environment rank: 41

10. Oklahoma

Innovation index score: 29.86

Human capital rank: 42

Innovation environment rank: 37

Individuals who want to be competitive in the changing economic landscape will need skills in critical thinking, high tech and automation, communication, and management, Ribhi Daoud, professor of economics at Sinclair Community College, wrote in the report. And states that want to encourage economic development will need tax incentives for R&D, financial incentives for higher education and research, and legislation to support capital investments in product and process development, Daoud wrote.

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Image: iStockphoto/rzarek