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Index Has Maine Achieving 'Modest Progress'

January 18, 2002

Describing Maine as making "modest progress" in strengthening its capacity for innovation-driven economic growth, the Maine Science and Technology Foundation (MSTF) released on Tuesday The Maine Innovation Index 2002, a report on Maine's performance in the new economy.

The Index measures 30 major indicators that, according to the report, are required for successful innovation-driven economic growth. Of the indicators, 13 showed improvement in the past five years, five showed no change, and three decreased. For nine indicators, five-year data is not yet available.

Among the report's key findings:

  • The state's public investments in research and development (R&D) have increased from approximately $2.5 million in 1997 to an historic high of $41 million in 2001.
  • Maine's total funding for R&D has experienced an increase in absolute dollars but has remained relatively flat as a percentage of gross state product (GSP).

    Federal funding for R&D in Maine has increased as a proportion of the GSP since 1995. The state still lags other states but has made significant progress in closing the gap, rising to 40 percent of the national average.
  • Maine's nonprofit research laboratories constitute a unique strength, having received increased federal funding since 1993. As a measure of R&D activity, Maine's spending in this category exceeds the national average.
  • Though below the national average, Maine's venture capital investments in Maine in 2000 rose 479 percent over 1999.
  • Maine continues to have an above-average high school graduation rate despite lagging other states in college attainment. The proportion of Maine adults 25 years of age and older with a four-year college degree rose from 18.8 percent in 1990 to 22.8 percent in 2000.

"Wages in technology-intensive industries in Maine equaled $40,500 in 1999, compared to $26,000 in non-technology-intensive industries. If we want to raise Maine incomes, we must focus on increasing the number of workers employed by high-technology sectors," said Joel Russ, president of MSTF.

Founded in 1993 by the Maine legislature, MSTF is a state-chartered, private, nonprofit corporation that provides policy advice to the governor and legislature, develops the state's action plan for supporting science and technology, evaluates the state's public investments in research and development, and maintains the state's science and technology clearinghouse.

The state legislature first asked MSTF to develop an index of science and technology measures five years ago. Entitled 1998 Maine Science & Technology Report Card, it was one of the first efforts by any state to document trends in science and technology indicators. The Maine Innovation Index 2002 <http://www.mstf.org/innovation_index/index.html> updates and expands the original report card.