Right-to-Work laws give workers the choice on whether they join their representing labor union. This category is bi-modal and assigns an A+ grade to those states that do not allow "union security agreements" between unions and employers that require workers to participate in established labor unions. A grade of F is assigned to those states that do allow such union security agreements.
Welcomes New Business Models
Businesses in the sharing economy are often stifled by outdated policies and entrenched special interests. States were evaluated on how they navigated this new regulatory landscape in 2014, either by welcoming or by restricting new, Internet-enabled business models. Note that not all states will receive a grade in this category.
Tax policies matter to businesses, allowing firms to keep more of the money they make, driving job creation and increasing research and development investment. This category measures a state's tax system using numerical scoring data.
This category measures the successful formation and continuation of businesses formed in a state.
Access to high-speed Internet for tech companies is a necessity and a state's ability to deliver reliable and high-quality access affects a state's economic viability. This category measures states' average Internet connection speed in kilobits-per-second.
The number of technology workers a state employs signals the strength of its economy, and its ability to grow and attract well-educated talent and high-wage employers. This category measures the number of technology-related jobs in a state, per capita.
The ability to attract investment to grow a product or service can often be the determining factor in where an entrepreneur chooses to launch his or her startup. This category accounts for the level of venture capital (VC) investment, and government and corporate research and development investment-per-capita to determine which states attract the most investment dollars.
Grants STEM Degrees
The number of college-educated students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields reflects the talent pipeline necessary for an innovative state. This category measures the number of STEM-related degrees conferred per 1,000 individuals 18-24 years old.
The Innovation Momentum category recognizes additional steps taken by the public and private sector to promote or hinder innovation at the state and city level.
Innovation-Friendly Sustainable Policies
Sustainability policies are often a bellwether of a state's interest and ability to promote innovation and an improved environment at the same time. This category assigns letter grades based on the unique legislative, regulatory and marketplace realities present in each state. Note that not all states will receive a grade in this category.