National Technology Group Ranks Idaho Low For Innovation

Apr 14, 2017

The Consumer Technology Association has put out an Innovation Scorecard for the last three years. The rankings are based on a mix of qualitative and quantitative factors.

Director of Policy Communications Izzy Santa says the point is to encourage some friendly competition among states, and give policy makers some ideas to improve their standing.

“And this year, Idaho is an innovation adopter," she says. "The same ranking as last year and that simply means that it’s in the bottom half of the country.”

Nearby Washington, Utah and Colorado all rank higher than Idaho. But Santa says the Gem State has some advantages in attracting new tech companies, including a lower tax rate and a focus on STEM education. 

She says one thing holding Idaho back is the slow internet speed. According to Broadview Networks, Idaho is dead last on this measure.  

“Nowadays the economy is so reliant on being digital and being connected [that] it would benefit the state to make sure they’re delivering high-speed services.”

But where Idaho leads is in what’s known as the sharing economy. Santa points to a brand new law in the state that protects the rights of homeowners to rent out their home on a short-term basis -- a policy Airbnb applauds. She says Idaho lawmakers have also embraced Uber and Lyft in a way other states have not, lifting rules on background checks and insurance.

Here's CTA's explanation of the factors behind Idaho's ranking:

Its right-to-work legislation but lack of a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
Statewide law to legalize ridesharing and positive state law legalizing homesharing
Business-friendly tax policies
Moderate job and small business growth
Average internet speeds of 10,407 kbps
Over 41,600 technology workers
$10 per capita in venture capital investment in 2016 and over $789 per capita in R&D
20.1 college degrees granted in STEM for every 1,000 young people
No exceptionally onerous electronics recycling policies
No restrictive regulation on self-driving cars, but excessively criminalizing drone technology with duplicative privacy laws -- Consumer Technology Association

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio