we’re still in a state of invention, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Massachusetts ranked fourth in the total number of patents granted last year, outranked only by California, Texas, and New York. We’re third when the numbers are adjusted for population size, as on our chart. Perhaps more important, the Bay State ranked sixth in the increase of all patents compared with 2000, better than any other state in the Northeast or Great Lakes region. That doesn’t mean we have no worries looking ahead, however: States with relatively youthful populations, such as Colorado, may have more growth potential than a state like Massachusetts, where most people are already well into their most inventive years.
Whether all these new-industry inventions lead to jobs is another matter. An April report by the Massachusetts High Technology Council and UMass Donahue Institute warned that the state has slipped from fifth to seventh in the number of people employed in the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors; Michigan and Pennsylvania both passed Massachusetts between 1998 and 2004. “The Bay State is undeniably a world leader in the research and development of biological and pharmaceutical products and treatments,” according to the report, but so far it “has not been as successful in attracting bio-pharma manufacturing activities.”