Warning: Good News! Maine Improves in National Science & Tech Index

The Milken Institute released their Index a few months back on where each state stands on their science and technology ecosystem. The good news is that Maine moved up (see “improved”) three spots, from 42nd to 39th. We actually moved out of the study’s “bottom ten” into the “third tier” (also good news). To paraphrase a great cult classic – these are baby steps to greatness!

The study, conducted every two years results is an Index that “tracks state’s tech and science capabilities—and their success at converting those assets into companies and high-paying jobs.” You can dig into all the data you’d like and find all the definitions and scores here, but here are a couple of things that I think are interesting:

First, we are most improved in the “Risk Capital and Entrepreneurial Infrastructure Composite Index”. We moved up twelve spots to be ranked 25th in the country!

Looking closer at the information, it looks like our great improvement is the result of a jump in venture capital investment growth—now we’re ranked number 1 in the country in this category. According to this study, our growth in this category since 2010 has grown by 1,673%.

Of course, when you start from 0% growth in the 2010 report, enthusiasm gets a little reality check. Sarcasm aside, it is still really good news. And while we likely won’t be able to achieve this level of growth again any time soon, we should celebrate the achievement for sure. Celebrate it for the companies already here, as well as for the ones we will grow and attract in the future.

Secondly, even our worst score holds some positive news for us. Our worst performance was in the category of “Technology and Science Workforce Composite Index”. We continue to be ranked 45th in the country (same as in 2010).  Ouch.

The good news is that we’re already working on it.  Both in the public and private sector, organizations are working on improving this area. From the private sector folks involved in EducateME and Mobilize Maine, to the work being doing in the Legislature on the Joint Select committee on Workforce Development, people are rowing in the same general direction. Frankly, there are too many to list here.  Visit www.mainestem.org for info on programs across the state.   With all of this, I’m confident that in 2014, our ranking will improve.

Bottom line, the report is good news for Maine and our economy. It’s a great opportunity to look at how we are doing on our efforts to strengthen our economy.

No strategy really works if there aren’t opportunities to measure performance of said strategy. That’s what this Index is for us. It gives us some great information on where to work and how we are doing.

Overall, it is a step in the right direction, even if it’s a baby step.  And while we need to encourage big and faster steps in the same direction, baby steps are good too.

Jess Knox

About Jess Knox

Jess Knox is a former political consultant and high-ranking SBA official who is passionate about entrepreneurship and Maine. These days he helps companies manage growth through his firm Olympico Strategies.