North Carolina ranked 10th in both the high-tech performance and innovation and entrepreneurship categories of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s sixth-annual Enterprising States: State Innovate Study.

It was recognized as one of the nation’s leading tech states by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation during a press conference Tuesday in the Old House Chamber of the North Carolina State Capitol.

The study ranks states best poised to thrive in the rapidly evolving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focused economy. The study also ranks the top 10 states in the categories of economic performance; transportation and trade; innovation and entrepreneurship; business climate; talent pipeline; and high-tech performance.

The study points out that approximately 50 percent of the U.S. annual GDP growth is attributed to increases in innovation. That means, it says, that “he states and regions that lead the transformation to the knowledge- and technology-based economy currently have enormous advantages.

The study says that there is no single recipe for technology-based economic development, but the experience of tech-based economies “like Silicon Valley and North Carolina’s Research Triangle” suggest the following elements are necessary:

  • a research base that generates new knowledge,
  • mechanisms for transferring knowledge to the
  • marketplace,
  • sources of risk capital,
  • a technically skilled workforce, and
  • an entrepreneurial culture.

Governor Pat McCrory was joined by Carolyn Cawley, managing director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation; S. Lewis Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber; and Geoff Lang, vice president and general manager of Global Technology and Operations for MetLife at the press conference.

“Governor Pat McCrory can be credited with succeeding at leveraging research conducted at North Carolina’s universities to serve as a vehicle to grow the state’s economy,” said Cawley. “Through North Carolina’s Innovation to Jobs initiative, the state seeks to position itself as the third vertex in the National Innovation Triangle and has created a venture multiplier fund designed to invest in venture capital companies focused on supporting homegrown business startups.”

Other state innovations include the iCenter. The iCenter was created as a way for state government to try technology before purchasing it. This has saved taxpayers at least $6 million and has become a national model for other states.

The Innovation to Jobs initiative was created to help North Carolina leverage research occurring at its world-class universities and community colleges and convert their findings into patents and jobs that will strengthen the state’s economy.

McCrory cited the Connect NC bond package that will go before voters in March as a way to further invest in innovation. Connect NC would dedicate more than $1.3 billion to North Carolina’s university and community college systems for things like new science labs across the state.

“Innovation is the key to a growing 21st century economy,” said Governor McCrory. “It’s encouraging that our efforts to support innovation are being recognized around the country. We will continue to emphasize entrepreneurship and creativity so that innovation becomes a key factor in every North Carolina economic sector and continues to be a role model for other states.”

Chamber CEO Ebert added, “This report is another accolade that reminds the rest of the nation, North Carolina is open for business.”

For the full study see: