Wisconsin lands in 25th place in a state science and technology ranking

December 23, 2018
UW-Madison, shown in this aerial view, is in the top 10 among U.S. universities in spending on research and development, according to a National Science Foundation survey. But that didn't help the state of Wisconsin earn a better showing in a Milken Institute list of states' performance on science and technology, where Wisconsin is 25th.

The non-partisan Milken Institute places Wisconsin smack-dab in the middle when it comes to the state’s ability to compete in a technology-oriented economy.

Wisconsin is No. 25, according to Milken’s 2018 State Technology and Science rankings. That is three places lower than the state fared in 2016, the last such ranking by Milken.

The top five states were: Massachusetts, Colorado, Maryland, California and Utah.

Massachusetts drew high marks for its major research universities, venture capital availability, entrepreneurial expertise and tech-oriented workforce. The state also has boosted public funds for neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation and startup development, the report said.

Utah rose from eighth place to fifth because its tech sector employment is growing at an average 4.3 percent a year, the fastest in the U.S., the report said.

Among Midwestern states, three scored higher than Wisconsin. Minnesota was No. 8; Illinois, No. 15; and Michigan, No. 18.

Wisconsin fared a bit better on its risk capital, No. 16, and research capacity, No. 19, and was in the middle of the pack on educational investment in science and tech fields, at No. 25.

But the state was ranked below average on technology concentration, No. 28, and science and tech workforce, No. 30.

The Milken list, which is a statewide measure, contrasts with some assessments of the Madison area, including these:

Madison is No. 14 among the top 20 “tech towns” in the United States, a study by CompTIA said. The Madison metro area is No. 10 nationwide in the number of computer-oriented jobs available and the adoption of computer technology in the workplace, the Brookings Institution said. Madison is one of 35 metropolitan areas in the U.S. with “a thriving startup environment,” said a 2017 study conducted by the Progressive Policy Institute for TechNet. Inc. magazine, quoting NerdWallet, listed Madison as No. 7 among the best cities for young entrepreneurs in 2016.Milken rated Madison No. 20 among the nation’s best performing large cities in 2015.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce president Zach Brandon said the Milken report shows the value of “supporting and investing in a world-class research university” and the importance of learning through experience.

“The Chamber is advocating to state leaders for the creation of a new statewide blue ribbon council to foster entrepreneurs, as well as a statewide refundable tax credit to catalyze private R&D spending,” Brandon said. “These steps would go a long way toward bolstering our advanced industries and improving Wisconsin’s standing as a place of innovation and entrepreneurship.”

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