Finding Innovation in the Bay State- Tim Berners-Lee

Students in Massachusetts are surrounded by history everywhere they look. Across the state, centuries of accomplishment and change have been memorialized. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the landmarks of momentous events that took place here.

A great source of pride is the Commonwealth’s unparalleled record of technological innovation. From Elias Howe’s first patented sewing machine, to Alexander Graham Bell’s earliest versions of the telephone, to the first patented microwave oven by Raytheon, to the first video game invented by MIT students, Massachusetts is brimming with innovation. It’s a legacy that continues today. Bloomberg recently named Massachusetts the “Most Innovative State in America,” edging out California.

What has allowed the Bay State to blaze this trail? Bloomberg measured patent activity, the number of engineering and science degree holders, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics employment, high tech density, and R&D intensity. Those metrics help tell the story of the region’s success. The Consumer Electronics Association, which named Massachusetts one of its “Champions of Innovation,” went even deeper to find out what makes innovative states successful. Strong talent pools, coupled with a friendly tax system, a strong venture capital community (a field which originated in Massachusetts), a dedication to research, and access to broadband internet usually result in a high ranking among states. Massachusetts scores well above average in almost every category.

These factors are a good sign, as few states depend on the innovation economy more than Massachusetts. According to The Innovation Institute, nearly 38% of the state’s workforce is employed within an “innovation sector,” led by biopharmaceuticals, postsecondary education, software, and healthcare. This is a higher percentage than any other state in America. The Commonwealth also receives more funding for research and development per capita than any other state in America, a promising measure for the state’s innovation future.

Massachusetts has the resume and the tools to lead in the 21st Century, where new and unique problems will provide countless opportunities for Bay Staters to find solutions. Our strong history of innovation, and standing as a national leader, is precisely why Pioneer Institute chose this as the topic for the 3rd Annual Frederick Douglass U.S. History Essay Contest. A deeper understanding of history will provide a more complete view, and a healthy boost of confidence to the next generation of entrepreneurs. If you are a high school student in Massachusetts, by investigating the stories behind the Commonwealth’s history of innovation you can win up to $5,000 for yourself, and $1,000 for your school.

Who knows? The prize money might be just what you need to jump start the next idea that shapes our state, and changes our world.


About the author

Jordan is a Fellow at the Pioneer Institute, an alumnus of Penn State University, and a graduate student at Harvard University.

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