Find Your Business Inspiration
in The Most Innovative States

Shannon Hill

Research and Development (R&D) is one of the most vital departments of any innovative company that wants to make its mark. Millions of non-negotiable dollars are invested in R&D every year, in order to improve products, services, and performance.

The National Science Foundation has created a pinpoint definition of R&D: “a planned, creative work aimed at discovering new knowledge or devising new applications of available knowledge.”

The U.S. is estimated to spend $581 billion on R&D in 2019. That’s more than any other country in the world, and about 25 percent of the global total.

The U.S. is estimated to spend $581 billion on R&D in 2019. That’s more than any other country in the world, and about 25 percent of the global total.

Two of the most successful companies in America have earned much of their reputation as a result of intense, tireless R&D. Amazon turned 25 in July, while Google turns 21 in September. We all know by now that both companies have excelled above and beyond their initial business plans, thanks to constant brainstorming and strategizing.

Innovation is key for a company to gain a foothold in its industry leadership, and that usually means building a culture of innovation. Many companies have developed “innovation hubs,” which may involve hiring researchers and academics, among other non-traditional employees. The hope is to encourage breakthroughs and advances that will propel the company forward.

The most innovative corporations encourage their employees to dedicate part of their workday to innovation. Forbes reports that 3M employees — called 3Mers — spend 85 percent of their day working on their usual tasks, but 15 percent of the day is set aside for pursuing “homegrown” ideas. This program has thrived because of the company championing collaborative culture. did a little research of its own: it set out to find which states are the most innovative in the country (think California, thanks to Silicon Valley), as well as why certain states seem to lag behind.

The research is based on how much money is spent by companies on R&D in each state, adjusted per 100,000 people.

Here are the major takeaways:

California tops the list. Surprised? Nah. The state spends over $1.1 million per 100,000 people. That’s 31 percent of the overall national spend.

Massachusetts is #2. It spends $215,000 per 100,000 people. That’s good, but nowhere near as good as California. If you do the math, California spends five times more on R&D per 100,000 people than any other state.

The remaining top states for innovation (along with the spend per 100,000 people):

  1. Washington – $196,730
  1. Michigan – $188,470
  1. Texas – $173,530
  1. New Jersey – $157,150
  1. New York – $157,140
  1. Illinois – $137,330
  1. Pennsylvania – $123,000
  1. North Carolina – $100,640

Some of these are no big surprise — tech-heavy states like Washington or Texas, for instance, but Illinois, Pennsylvania and North Carolina seem more unexpected to make the list. Why? Possibly thanks to their largest industries, which are insurance, telecommunications, and chemical manufacturing, respectively.

Read more about the most innovative states.

KBS offers inspirational workspace in many of the most innovative states. Check out some of these locations:


201 Spear Street

District | 237

Ten Almaden

Almaden Financial Plaza

The Towers at Emeryville

Union Bank Plaza

Von Karman Tech Center


Offices @ Riverpark

Ridgewood Corporate Square


1800 Bering

3811 Turtle Creek

515 Congress

City View

Clay Crossing

Domain Gateway

Fountainhead Tower

Highland Park Place

Knox Residence

Legacy Town Center I – III

Parkwood Place

Preston Commons

Providence Towers

Southpark Commerce Center

Southtech Business Center

Sterling Plaza

The Offices at Greenhouse

Tollway North Office Park

Tower 909

 New Jersey

Park Avenue at Morris County

Woodbridge Corporate Plaza


Accenture Tower

213 West Institute Place

Edens Corporate Center


1000 Continental

Crosspoint at Valley Forge

North Carolina

Bank of America Tower


Crossroads Distribution Center

Park Central Apartments


Find Your Business Inspiration<BR>in The Most Innovative States Shannon Hill website C 240x300
Shannon Hill is a senior vice president and asset manager for KBS overseeing more than 1.6 million square feet of U.S. office space.