The University of Nebraska-Lincoln released its 2011 State Entrepreneurship Index, and some states are receiving more patents than others. This top-five list includes those states that are out-innovating and what fields are leading the way in patented ideas and research.

5. Washington

Ranked fifth in the nation is the state of Washington, giving out an average of 3.13 patents per one thousand residents. The Evergreen state is home to a diverse group of innovators. Work done at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory includes clean tech, cybersecurity, and nuclear technology. Drug companies also spur patents with advances in prescriptions and medical technologies. Companies like Amazon, Costco, and Microsoft are also headquartered in the state, which in turn drives up patents.

4. Minnesota

Minnesota is also a leading patent-awarding state. It doles out 3.22 patents per one thousand residents. The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes is also home to leading research and development companies like 3M, Hormel Foods, the Mayo Clinic, and Medtronic. Bill Blazer, who is the spokesman of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, says, “Much of Minnesota’s economy is homegrown. That’s spurred innovation in the state for decades.” Minnesota also diversifies in other patent-earning industries like engineering, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail.

3. California

California may not be a surprising state to see on this list. Home to influential companies in bioengineering, biomedicine, technology, and telecom, it is also the hub of revered research universities. Another reason for California’s patent lead, notes California Foundation for Commerce and Education President Loren Kaye, is its advancements in industries such as agriculture and entertainment. The state gives out 3.33 patents per one thousand residents and is going to be home to the first ever satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Patent Office is being opened in Silicon Valley and will speed up patent procedures.

2. Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers 3.43 patents per one thousand residents, and many of them are awarded to the research of esteemed universities like Harvard and MIT. Many patents are also given to the graduates of those colleges. The state secretary of housing and economic development, Greg Bialecki, states, “We’re also seeing an explosion of independent startups, many formed by graduates from these schools.” One such example is the cleaning robot, the Roomba. The vacuuming android was invented by the iRobot Corporation, a company founded by MIT scientists in 1990.

1. Vermont

The number one leading state in patents with an average of 3.5 patents per one thousand residents is Vermont. With its large manufacturing facilities like IBM, which is a large generator of patents, and patent pioneers in food manufacturing, life sciences, and microbreweries, Vermont is the clear frontrunner in awarding patents. There are also many research facilities, such as the University of Vermont, which are earning patents in technological research. One patent is for a new green product, a finish for floors and furniture that is based on whey proteins. These proteins are a byproduct of diary and a renewable resource.


Kavilanz, Parija. “10 most inventive states” CNN Money, A Service of CNN, Fortune and Money. 10/24/2012.

Thompson, Eric and Walstad, William. “State Entrepreneurship Index” Business in Nebraska. UNL Bureau of Business Research, Vol. 67, NO.704. September 2012.