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First Year of Illinois Innovation Index Provides Snapshot of State and Region’s Innovation Standing

Economic innovation plays a major role in producing sustained regional prosperity, yet measuring such a broad concept is often difficult to accomplish. GO TO 2040 recommends improving data and information systems on innovation so that policymakers, investors, and business leaders can make better-informed decisions. One year ago, CMAP joined the collaborative Illinois Innovation Index effort to tackle this challenging and important task.

On October 4, 2012, the Index released its 2011-12 Annual Report, a compilation of the monthly Index newsletters, as well as an executive summary and video. The Index -- a collaborative effort between CMAP and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, and World Business Chicago -- tracks a broad set of metrics to measure the innovation economy of the region and state.

The Index's Annual Report measures economic progress made in the region and state and calls attention to areas for improvement by using four innovation themes: talent, business climate, capital, and dynamism. These themes provide a fuller picture of the innovation economy compared to isolated indicators. According to the Index, Illinois trails the national average for talent in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degrees, though on-line job boards in metropolitan Chicago suggest demand for high-tech occupations such as web developers or computer system analysts. In Illinois, commercial internet subscribers and exports are up, while Chicago region entrepreneurs expressed need for early-stage financing. Both are measures of business climate. The capital theme of the Index examined venture capital and research and development (R&D) levels, finding that while levels have increased, metropolitan Chicago still trails peer regions. Finally, dynamism measured patents, job creation, and new business starts, portraying a similar story of mixed growth.

The first year of the Index provides a nuanced look at the region's innovation economy. Moving forward, CMAP and its partners will continue work in this area. The Index will move to a quarterly basis to highlight the four innovation themes, updating the critical innovation benchmarks established during the first year. A new Innovation Dashboard on MetroPulse will feature easy-to-access innovation data from the Index for researchers, policymakers, and investors.