State poised to support tech-based economy

Washington State is still poised to support a technology-driven economy according to the recently released 2004 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology, an in-depth statistical report published annually by the Washington Technology Center.

The Index provides a comprehensive analysis of more than 40 statewide measures and 12 regional indicators for evaluating the state’s economic growth with respect to technology industries.

Young companies and emerging technologies continue to be primary drivers of the state’s potential. Washington ranks eighth nationally in innovation capacity, holding strong for the last four years. Patent generation continues to be strong throughout the state up 10 percent from the previous year across all technology sectors–a growth trend that has continued since the Index was first published.

For the third year running, Washington led the nation in new company launches by a significant margin – more than 16 percent above the second-ranked state, Colorado. Along with this ranking comes a high rate of company closures; 20 percent of Washington businesses ceasing operations each year, making it the second highest in the nation. While on the surface, this seems alarming, it follows the nature of an innovative economy reliant on new idea generation.

However, idea generation alone isn’t enough to sustain a technology-driven economy. “Washington needs to parlay its innovation strength into successful commercial ventures and new jobs,” said Tab Wilkins, director of regional and technical services for the Washington Technology Center.
Since 1997 Washington has slipped from 8th nationally to 17th overall in federal R&D funding. Yet, R&D expenditures have been continually on the rise, up nearly 227 percent since 1989 – from $3.22 billion to $10.52 billion. And strains from the recession are still visible in financial markets. Since 2002, there has been a continued downturn in the rate of investment to technology sectors. Capital investment is still being made, but not as enthusiastically. Washington remains among the top regions in the country for venture investment, but has slipped from ninth to tenth position among the 11 largest capital markets.

The Washington Index of Innovation and Technology groups statistical data into six core indicators: innovation, competitiveness, growth, financial capacity, workforce potential and quality of life. The full report is available on the WTC Website at: