WTC releases annual Index of Innovation and Technology

The Washington Technology Center has released its 2004 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology.

Providing a comprehensive analysis of more than 40 statewide measures and 12 regional indicators to create a summary for evaluating the state’s economic growth with respect to technology industries. WTC began publishing the report in 2000.

A snapshot of the six core indicators shows the following trends:

– Entrepreneurship and innovation remains strong. 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. Patents continued to increase across all major technology areas.

– Regionally, an interesting shift occurred in technology job growth. Established technology communities like Seattle, Vancouver and Spokane saw a drop in technology jobs overall, however, Bellingham, the Tri-Cities, and Bremerton all exhibited strong technology job growth over the past two years. The region as a whole remained strong for new company incubation.

– Washington’s export strength remains a competitive advantage, with the state ranking fourth nationally and first on a per capita basis for total value of exports. Aerospace and Software continue to be the dominant industries although Scientific Research and Development showed one of the strongest gains in the state.

– Technology employment decreased for the first time in three years. Much of this decline is related to the overall economic downturn that hit the country late in 2001 continuing into 2002 and 2003. Technology jobs as a percent of employment overall remained relatively stable and Washington continues to lead the country in tech wages.

– Lingering effects of the recession also resulted in decreased financial investment. Financial markets were less aggressive than in past years; this slowing was on par with the economic downturn nationally. Despite cautious investment, venture capitalists continue to show financial interest in tech companies. Software and telecommunications remain the predominant benefactors and financial interest in biotechnology increased from previous years.

– Washington retains a highly educated workforce, critical to the tech industry, ranking 12th for states with residents who have higher education degrees. Washington’s four-year institutions grant more than 4,500 science and technology degrees each year.

– Quality of life remains high, primarily due to the appeal of the region’s natural resources and cultural environment. Traffic congestion and high home prices in Puget Sound metropolitan areas continue to pose threats to the state’s quality of life indicator. Even with a slight increase from last year, crime rates remain low and relatively stable.