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The 10 Most (And 10 Least) Innovative States In The U.S.

innovative states ranking
Wave your flags. These are the most (and least) innovative places in the country. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Thinking you want to make a move to an innovative new tech hub that's on the front line when it comes to education, research and business developmentForget the expected enclaves of cool like San Francisco or Brooklyn. In-the-know millennials have already moved on to the next innovation hubs.
So just which places are leading the charge? The analysts at WalletHub recently stacked up the 50 states and the District of Columbia to see who is at the forefront. They analyzed data from 18 key innovation indicators, including the density of tech companies, the share of professionals in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), research and development spending per capita and even speed of internet. 
First, here are the top 10 most innovative places. After that, we've got the 10 least innovative states. So where does your current home fall? You might be surprised — and it just might motivate you to make that move sooner than you think. The full list is also on the WalletHub site.
Washington D.C. innovative
Washington D.C. is the most innovative place in America. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
1. District of Columbia: At the top of the list is a destination that isn't technically a state, but WalletHub included it on the list for obvious reasons. Besides being our nation's political hub, Washington D.C. is home to the most STEM professionals in the country — and is projected to have the highest STEM job demand by 2020, not to mention the greatest number of science and engineering graduates aged 25-plus. And as if that weren't enough, D.C. boasts the fastest internet speed in the country , the greatest AP exam participation and the highest R&D spending per capita. Plus, it tied with Massachusetts, California, Utah and New York for first place in venture-capital funding per capita. It came in a bit low — seventh — in overall innovation environment, but all the other numbers clearly made up for that.
Baltimore Maryland
Maryland might be known for its crabs, but it's also known as an innovation hub. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
2. MarylandMaryland didn't just rank second on the list because of its D.C. suburbs. This is a state that is powerful in its own right, ranking first in innovation environment, thanks in part to companies like Lockheed Martin Corporation and Discovery Communications, which are based here. When it came to science and engineering graduates above age 25, Maryland ranked second. It was also right up there at number two with its share of technology companies.
Boston innovation
The skyline of Boston, fourth on the innovation list. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
3. Massachusetts: The home of Raytheon Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (whose graduates are notorious for their startup mentality) came in number three overall. Massachusetts also tied with D.C., California, Utah and New York for first place in venture-capital funding per capita. It ranked second in overall innovation environment.
The 10 Most (And 10 Least) Innovative States In The U.S.
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, as much a symbol of this state as its tech industry. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
4. California: Silicon Valley tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook might be based in California, but the state didn't fare as well as you might have expected on this list. While it tied with D.C., Massachusetts, Utah and New York to take first place in venture-capital funding per capita and was third in innovation environment, California bombed when it came to tax friendliness: number 49.
The 10 Most (And 10 Least) Innovative States In The U.S.
The skyline of Denver, in the fifth-ranking state of Colorado. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
5. Colorado: Denver has become a hotbed for startups, helping propel the Centennial State into fifth place. In WalletHub's survey, it ranked fifth for innovation environment and first in eighth-grade math and science performance. A mediocre score in scientific knowledge output (number 24) tempered some of the other numbers.
Seattle, the entrepreneurial hotbed in sixth-ranking Washington state. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
6. Washington: Amazon and Microsoft are just two of the innovation leaders in Washington that helped this entrepreneurial state secure sixth place on the list. The state got high marks in several other important measures — population of STEM professionals, projected STEM job demand by 2020 and science and engineering graduates above age 25. (Curiously for a place with such a techie spirit, it only ranked 10th for speed of internet.
Richmond, Virginia
The skyline of Richmond in the number seven state of Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
7. Virginia: Next up on the list is Virginia, which is noteworthy for having the highest share of technology companies in the country. 
Arches National Park
A knack for science helped beautiful Utah make the top 10. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
8. Utah: Known for its science abilities, Utah came in at number eight. The state also tied with Washington D.C., Massachusetts, California and New York for first in venture-capital funding per capita.
Mystic Connecticut
Connecticut, home to the seaside enclave of Mystic, came in at number nine. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
9. Connecticut: While Connecticut did poorly when it came to tax friendliness (number 43 on the list), this state that is home to companies like General Electric and Xerox was buoyed by its ranking in R&D spending per capita (number six) and invention patents per 100,000 residents (also number six).
New Hampshire covered bridge
When you think of New Hampshire, covered bridges might come to mind, but it's also in the top 10 for innovation. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
10. New Hampshire: This state known for companies that specialize in engineering and technology development also had something else going for it: It ranked number one for share of households with internet access.
Maine's beauty didn't help it on this list. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
42. Maine: Among the bottom 10 states on the list, Maine is the only non-landlocked state. Still, that coastal location didn't help save it from poor rankings when it came to scientific knowledge output (number 51), industry cluster strength (46) and internet speed (44).
Mount Rushmore
It's been awhile since the innovative times of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
43. South Dakota: At least South Dakota can say it beat out North Dakota, but still, its share of technology companies is near the bottom of the list (number 50) and industry cluster strength was another particularly low ranking number (48).
Des Moines
Historic Court Avenue bridge crossing the Des Moines river. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
44. Iowa: Iowa had a decent showing in some areas, like industry cluster strength (number 10) and eight grade math and science performance (17). But it was downhill from there, with the state coming in at number 47 for its share of science and engineering grads, average annual federal small business funding (44) and share of technology companies (43).
Tennessee's Lookout Mountain
The view from Tennessee's Lookout Mountain. Look out for low innovation. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
45. Tennessee: Chattanooga has been pushing to innovate in technology and business development, but that didn't help the overall state in this list. Tennessee's share of households with internet access is shockingly low (number 44) and entrepreneurial activity was another particularly low ranking number (42).
North Dakota
Innovation is low, but clean electricity is on the rise in North Dakota. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
46. North Dakota: Some North Dakotans disagree vehemently with this ranking, with one Bismarck radio station calling the report "bullcrap." Nevertheless, numbers don't lie, and North Dakota got poor marks for AP exam participation (51), venture-capital funding per capita (number 47) and share of technology companies (46). 
It might be an oil-rich state, but Oklahoma is innovation poor. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
47. Oklahoma: The so-called Sooner State should be called the Later State after its showing on this list, with abysmal rankings for share of science and engineering graduates (number 50), R&D spending per capita (48) and R&D intensity (45).
The skyline of Louisville, in low-ranking Kentucky. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
48. Kentucky: Like Chattanooga, Louisville has recently been working to promote technology and startups. But Tennessee as a whole hasn't seen an impact, according to this list. One notable fail: Tennessee has one of the lowest internet speeds in the country, coming in at number 49.
New Orleans
Pride rides high in Louisiana cities like New Orleans, but innovation runs low. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
49. Louisiana: Louisiana is still bouncing back from Katrina, and even though cities like New Orleans have an entrepreneurial spirit, the state still lags when it comes to innovation, especially in areas like R&D intensity (number 50) and average annual federal small business funding (number 50)
Welcome to Mississippi; sorry about the state of innovation. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
50. Mississippi: Not only does Mississippi have the highest percentage of residents below the poverty line, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau, it's also got the lowest share of science and engineering graduates in the nation, the lowest projected STEM job demand by 2020 and the lowest number of invention patents per 100,000 residents. And internet speed? Forget it: The state came in at number 50.
West Virginia
West Virginia ranked last, but it has landscapes like the Allegheny Front that are nothing if not stunning. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
51. West Virginia: As the least innovative state in the country, West Virginia — no surprise— also ranked lowest when it came to its share of technology companies. It also bombed with STEM professionals (number 49), entrepreneurial activity (47) and scientific knowledge output (46). The only good news? It was just number 18 when it came to tax friendliness.

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