The next great thing

despite the economic woes in the country, investment in research and development continues to expand in all public, private, and nonprofit sectors, according to federal statistics.

Nowhere is that impact felt greater than in Massa­chu­setts, where more money is spent on business research and development than in any other state in the country except California, according to National Science Foundation surveys for FY2008, the most recent data available.

Massachusetts also ranks second overall nationally in total R&D expenditures as a percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product. Only New Mexico, which has a GDP one-fifth the size of Massachusetts’s and where research and development spending was less than a quarter of the $24.6 billion spent in the Bay State, ranks higher.

“We have a lot of high tech and electronics here, so those folks are already invested in research and development,” says Charles Atherton, a professor of finance at Suffolk University. “It’s the technological advancement that enables businesses to grow. If you continue to make the same product you made in 1955, you’re probably not going to be a market leader anymore, no matter how much of a leader you were in 1955.”

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

California’s $77.4 billion in total R&D expenditure dwarfed all other states and accounted for 21.6 percent of all state spending on research and development. Massa­chusetts was a distant second to California, but it was the only other state to exceed $20 billion.

Businesses spent $19.5 billion on R&D in Massa­chu­setts. Surprisingly, given the state’s powerhouse educational institutions, only $2.2 billion was spent by the state’s colleges and universities, placing Massachu­setts sixth in that category. With its bevy of world-class research and teaching hospitals, Massachusetts ranked first in nonprofit R&D with $1.3 billion spent. California was second with $1 billion. No other state topped $400 million.