21st Edition of the “Index of the Mass. Innovation Economy” Released

Thursday, May 31, 2018





21st Edition of the “Index of the Mass. Innovation Economy” Released

Tracks Commonwealth’s Performance in 22 Key Indicators and Includes a Deep Dive on the Impact that Technologic “Convergence” is having on the Mass. Innovation Economy

Includes Introduction from Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash &

Contributed Commentaries from Executives at iRobot, Northeastern University, and Google


BOSTON – The 21st edition of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s annual Index of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy research report tackles the subject of technologic convergence this year, in addition to tracking the Commonwealth’s performance in 22 key indicators. This year’s edition of the Index includes a backgrounder on technologic convergence, which is the “increasing level of interaction and overlap between different technology areas and industry sectors,” and includes contributed commentaries from three Massachusetts leaders who focus on how convergence is shaping business, higher education, and K-12 learning. 

The annual Index also looks back at the year 2017, offering a comparison of the Massachusetts innovation economy to 14 other Leading Technology States (LTS), finding that the Commonwealth still plays an outsized role when it comes to research & development (R&D) investment, where it trails only California, and in education, where it once again leads in STEM graduates per capita.

According to the Index, Massachusetts overall level of R&D funding, $28.7 billion in 2015, placed it ahead of much larger Texas ($23.7 billion), highlighting how Massachusetts ‘punches above its weight’ when it comes to investments. The report also highlights that the vast majority of the Commonwealth’s R&D investments come from private industry (75 percent), followed by universities, colleges, and non-profit research institutions (18 percent), and the federal government or federally funded R&D centers (7 percent).

In the introduction to the new Index, Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash highlights the importance of the report in tracking the innovation economy year in and year out. 

“Being data-driven and results-focused allows us to gauge the impact investments have on our communities, and reports like the Index provide a statewide, macro-level view into the key indicators where Massachusetts is ahead, but also those areas where attention or focus is needed,” writes Secretary Ash. “The Index also acts as a conversation starter, allowing us to use the data we’ve collected to engage our world-class tech companies and innovative universities, to ask them ‘how can we do better?’ and ‘what can the Commonwealth do to help drive your continued success?’ This kind of dialogue reflects the spirit of collaboration and partnership exemplified by the Baker-Polito Administration, which has enabled Massachusetts to achieve national recognition as a leading state for innovation.”

In addition to the key metrics, the report highlights ways that the issue of technologic convergence is impacting the Massachusetts innovation economy. The aim of the Index is to put a spotlight on the issue of convergence and to highlight how it is bringing companies together in various ways, some positive and some negative, including:

  • Technology Overlap: Where companies in diverse industries have similar technology needs, such as cybersecurity and data analytics;
  • Talent Overlap:  Where companies in many industries have similar talent needs, such as computer science and data science, leading to increased competition; and
  • Intersection Industries: Where companies in a variety of existing end-use industries or technology areas come together to form a new sector, such as digital health.

The Index includes potential ways that the Commonwealth can prepare for the future onslaught of convergence over the coming decades and to address some existing examples of ongoing convergence.   In addition, MassTech asked for contributed viewpoints on convergence from three leading voices in the Massachusetts innovation economy including: Colin Angle, iRobot’s co-founder, chairman, and CEO; Dr. Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University; and Google’s Steve Vinter, co-founder of the Massachusetts Computing Attainment Network (MassCAN).

“Looking ahead to where convergence will play a major role in the future, the Internet of Things (IoT) holds tremendous opportunities for companies within Massachusetts, however they will need to work together to ensure the growth of all within the IoT,” writes Angle of iRobot. “No one company can go it alone. This is an area where Massachusetts has thrived. The state has been very successful bringing companies and organizations together, allowing them to share knowledge, address large challenges, build successful business models and compete on a global level. Massachusetts is an emerging leader in the IoT, and the continued support of our state government and cooperation within the business community will be especially important here moving forward. By leveraging our community, we can powerfully scale.”

Several other important findings are highlighted in this edition of the Index:

  • Higher education funding per full-time equivalent student in Massachusetts grew 12.8 percent from 2011 to 2016, which is the 3rd highest growth rate among the LTS over that span. While that stat has shown growth, the Commonwealth’s figure of $6,334 per student in 2016 only ranks 6th among the LTS and is still below the U.S. average of $7,116 per student;
  • Massachusetts Median Household income was roughly $75,000 in 2016, 22 percent higher than the average of the LTS ($62,000) and 31 percent higher than the U.S. average ($58,000);
  • The Commonwealth maintained its #1 rank nationally in the percentage of working age adults in Massachusetts that held at least a bachelor’s degree, 47.3 percent in 2015. Massachusetts also produced more than 118,000 college graduates in 2015, ranking 10th nationally and 3rd per capita, behind only Rhode Island and Utah;
  • In 2015, Massachusetts attracted $3.1 billion in federal funding for academic research and development, second only to California ($4.7 billion) among the LTS. While Massachusetts led all LTS in federal funding for academic R&D when compared on an economic basis, the data for 2015 was slightly lower than in 2005 ($3.1 vs $3.2 billlion). 

“The year’s Index shows that the Commonwealth’s research investments, particularly those from business and industry, mixed with our consistently high academic rankings, continue to power innovation in the Commonwealth,” stated Patricia Flynn, Trustee Professor of Economics & Management at Bentley University and the chairwoman of the Index Advisory Committee. “While the Index is an important almanac of the Commonwealth’s past performance, it also plays a valuable role in identifying and raising awareness on issues, such as convergence, that are critical to understanding the needs of a vibrant innovation economy.”

Launched in 1997, the 21st edition of the Index continues the tradition of comparing Massachusetts’ performance to the 14 LTS, which were selected based on their significant levels of economic concentration and impact within the innovation economy. The online version of the Index website has been updated with new interactive charts and graphs which allow users to more easily dig into the compiled data, which is sourced from a variety of government, non-profit, and private sector research studies that are collected throughout the year. The Index compares the innovation economy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the LTS in six key areas, broken down into twenty-two separate indicators under six major topic areas, including:  Economic Impact, Business Development, Technology Development, Capital, Research, and Talent.

To download a copy of the Index or to access interactive copies of the graphs & charts from the report please visit www.masstech.org/index


The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is an innovative public agency working to enhance economic growth, accelerate technology use and adoption, and harness the value of research by engaging in meaningful collaborations across academia, industry, and government.  From improving our health care systems and expanding high-speed internet across the state to fostering emerging industry clusters, MassTech is driving innovation and supporting a vibrant economy across the Commonwealth. 

The Innovation Institute at MassTech was created in 2003 to improve conditions for growth in the innovation economy by enhancing industry competitiveness, promoting conditions which enable growth; and providing data and analysis to stakeholders in the Massachusetts innovation economy that promotes understanding and informs policy development. 

For more information visit www.masstech.org.



Brian Noyes, MassTech

(508) 870-0312 X: 293, noyes@masstech.org