As economies globalize, attention among industrial-world policy-makers has focused increasingly on supporting economic innovation – keeping their economies at the cutting edge, as older industries and products commoditize and move offshore.
However, there is no known silver bullet for doing this. Capital formation, university R&D, patenting and other IP, labor force development, general education, even quality of life have been the focus of policy. At the same time, system outputs from the innovation system have proved hard to measure: beyond patents and some indicators of economic growth, little consensus exists.
The Regional Innovation Index addresses these issues by providing policymakers with tools to benchmark regions against comparable other regions (cities, states, regional markets, collections of postal codes), using a large collection of data sets embedded in a scalable database, and accessible online. Subsequently, researchers can analyze the data, to investigate leading indicators of innovation, and causal relationships.
Funding for the Index was provided by the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and technology.
Access to the Index is freely available. However, while the data visualization tool continues to provide a highly efficient interface for assessing and comparing regional innovation, the data are now outdated following a shift in funding at NIST. The project integrated data from 230 indicators in 13 categories to provide state by state comparisons of innovation inputs and outputs.