Innovation fuels a knowledge-based economy: it creates new industries, makes existing ones globally competitive, and sustains economic growth. With this report, the fifth in a series of innovation indexes that began with Tracking Innovation 2000, 1 North Carolina is one of a handful of enterprising states that regularly monitor innovation assets, activities, and trends within their borders.
This 2015 report measures the health of North Carolina’s innovation economy. It tracks North Carolina’s performance across 39 innovation measures weighed against that of the United States overall, six key comparison states (California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, Washington) and leading countries. These measures provide insights into the links between innovation, resources, and economic results in the North Carolina economy.
During the most recent time period for which data are available across the report’s 39 measures, North Carolina’s average rank among the 50 U.S. states is 23rd. 2 Its highest single measure rank is fifth; its lowest single measure rank is 48th. Additionally, on 26 of the 39 measures, North Carolina’s “Percent of U.S. Average Value” is below average, meaning the state underperforms the nation as a whole on those measures.
Since the early 2000s, North Carolina’s performance relative to itself varied considerably—on 21 measures it improved, on 13 it declined, and on two it stayed the same.3 During that same period, the nation’s performance relative to itself also varied considerably—on 23 measures it improved, on 11 it declined, and on two it stayed the same. Overall, North Carolina’s innovation ecosystem is moderately healthy and has improved slightly since the early 2000s, but is lagging slightly behind the improvements of the nation overall.
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