According to a new study, Texas is the 16th most innovative state in the union, with Washington, D.C. landing the top spot, partly due to its higher number of technology companies.
The WalletHub 2022 Most and Least Innovative States study found that the share of technology companies is 4.83% in Texas compared to 8.19% in D.C.
“A low cost of living and favorable tax laws can attract more tech companies to Texas,” said Jill Gonzalez, an analyst with WalletHub. “Investing in transportation infrastructure is another factor that could attract more tech companies to the state.”
The study found that to catch up with D.C., Texas would need to have more STEM professionals, more science and engineering graduates, a higher projected STEM job demand, and scientific knowledge output.
“In terms of its innovation environment, Texas should have more technology companies, a higher R&D (research and development) spending, and intensity and more innovation patents per capita,” Gonzalez told The Dallas Express. “It should also have more accelerated startups, more venture capital funding, and full adoption of K-12 computer science standards.”
According to Gonzalez, the adoption of K–12 computer science standards is included as a factor in the study because innovation in the future will primarily be tech-enabled.
“The fact that K-12 computer science standards haven’t yet been fully adopted is one of the factors that kept Texas from ranking higher,” she said. “The difference between Texas and D.C. is that D.C. has fully adopted these standards while Texas is only in the progress of adopting them.”
Eighth-grade math and science performance are included due to their role in determining the future availability of human capital in tech.
“Teachers should help kids build confidence and encourage them to ask questions, be curious and clarify what they don’t understand in their math and science classes,” Gonzalez said. “To improve scores, it’s important for students to work to understand the math and science concepts they’re being taught, rather than simply memorize formulas.”
WalletHub determined that Texas ranks 29th for eighth-grade math and science performance, while the District of Columbia ranks 33rd.
“Texas may outrank D.C. in this particular category, but D.C. ranks above Texas in most everything else,” she said.
Universities play an essential role in innovation through the education and training of students. The study found that the share of science and engineering graduates in Texas is 44.11% compared to 52.22% in D.C.
“Universities can also contribute to research and generate patents, licenses, and relevant publications,” Gonzalez said. “To encourage more innovation, universities could set up student programs designed to educate, engage and inspire them to innovate in different areas.”
According to the data, the metrics in which Texas ranked high include entrepreneurial activity, the number of startups accelerated per total number of startups, industry cluster strength, and the average internet speed.
Areas in which the state ranked below average include scientific knowledge output, R&D spending, as well as both the intensity and average of annual federal small business funding per GDP.
For example, Texas ranked 31st and 30th for R&D spending and intensity, respectively, but had the 18th largest number of invention patents per capita at 43.5.
“To boost innovation Texas authorities can try to attract more tech companies, and increase the number of households with internet access,” Gonzalez added.