The 2018 Milken Technology and Science Index report was released last month, and Utah has a lot to smile about. The state earned fifth place honors, improving its ranking from eighth place in 2016.

The report rates states’ performance in three categories: high-tech innovation, education and investment.

The state’s impressive ranking is mainly due to increased jobs in the high-tech sector and the number of university science and technology graduates.

Val Hale, executive director of Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, credits the state’s universities and Silicon Slopes’ tech boom for those high numbers.

“Were it not for our universities, our economy would not be where it is now,” Hale said. “When people ask me why our economy is doing well, I point to Utah’s universities.”

The index looks at five different areas to rank U.S. states including research and development inputs, capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, human capital investment, technology and science workforce, and technology concentration and dynamism.

“We’re excited to see Utah recognized as a leader in STEM talent development. The Utah STEM Action Center represents an investment by the state to continue to build student interest and success in STEM-related education and careers,” said Tamara Goetz, STEM Action Center executive director.

The Milken Technology and Science Index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey and Moody’s Analytics.
The entire index can be viewed on the Milken Institute’s website.