i3 | April 01, 2020

15 States Champion Innovation

Jeremy Snow

Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri rose through the ranks of CTA’s 2020 U.S. Innovation Scorecard

Every other year, CTA looks into each state’s tech policies to see how they measure up. As the tech industry becomes more complex and wide-reaching, CTA’s U.S. Innovation Scorecard offers a unique analysis of the progress each state has made and where improvements can occur.

This year, 15 states earned the highest title of Innovation Champion — the most ever — while only seven declined in rank. Of those 15, a significant number were from the Midwest, including first-timers Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri. Since the last Scorecard in 2018, internet access has improved in all 50 states and self-driving vehicle testing and development have taken off. 

“This list proves that American innovation is not confined to the coasts. We’re proud to recognize those states doing the most to unleash innovation and fulfill the potential of technology — creating jobs, powering our economy and delivering life-changing benefits,” says Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA.

All 50 states are graded on 12 categories — quantitative and qualitative — that evaluate innovation-friendly policies, including entrepreneurial activity, sustainability, tax friendliness and the workforce. Then, a composite score of each grade determines a state’s overall title: Innovation Champions (the highest ranking), Innovation Leaders, Innovation Adopters or Modest Innovators.

New Criteria

This year, CTA also added how well states welcome 5G connectivity, e-scooters as a transportation option and apprenticeship programs that help build the workforce of the future.

“We believe that collaborating with business on rulemaking to govern emerging technologies makes America the best country in the world for innovation,” adds Shapiro. “The CTA U.S. Innovation Scorecard emphasizes forward-thinking, light-handed policies that are proven to work and help today’s innovators create a better tomorrow.”

There’s plenty to celebrate among 2020’s Innovation Champions: Washington’s freedom on drone activity, Virginia’s 56 tech jobs per 1,000 people, Massachusetts’ nation high investments in R&D and venture capital, the list goes on. To find the rankings of every state, visit CTA.tech/Advocacy/Innovation-Scorecard.

Here are some of the accomplishments of the three new Champions:


Earned a “Best & Brightest” rating thanks to its strong protection of workers based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It also ranks among the top states in the Tech Workforce category, with roughly 38 tech jobs per 1,000 people and almost 2,000 apprenticeship graduates in 2018.


Is leading the country in self-driving vehicles, thanks to a 2019 executive order establishing an advisory council on the topic. The new rulings will update laws to allow for self-driving testing, which will be especially valuable considering Minnesota’s snowy weather.


Has nearly 38 tech jobs per 1,000 people and had more than 2,600 apprenticeship graduates in 2018 — one of the highest numbers in the country. The state also permits the testing and development of self-driving vehicles without restrictive regulations.

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