Innovation Index

To innovate means literally to renew or change something. Innovation is about coming up with a better process, creating a new product, improving an existing one, opening a new market, finding a new source of supply or creating a better way to organize ourselves. Innovation may be technology-driven today but it is just as likely to focus on a new and better way for people to work together.

Why is innovation such a hot topic right now?

Quite simply, we believe it to be the primary drive of economic growth – and after years of recession across the industrial world, growth is a top priority. However, innovation turns out to be surprisingly hard to measure, since it flows through ideas and experiments into services and products.

An initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, Purdue University, and Indiana University is working to provide a deeper understanding of where innovation is taking place.  StatsAmerica  has produced an “innovation index” for every county in the United States. Kentucky’s county-level results are illustrated on the map below, with the highest innovation index values anchoring the three angles of the urban triangle—the Louisville area, Northern Kentucky, and Fayette County. The index is based on four broad categories and includes 22 different variables. The four broad categories include Human Capital, Economic Dynamics, Productivity and Employment, and Economic Well-Being. Some of the variables include educational attainment, high-technology employment, broadband adoption, venture capital investments, patent creation, worker productivity, proprietor income, the poverty rate, and per capita income.

The index is scaled so that 100 is the U.S. average. The highest ranked Kentucky county is Fayette at 101.8. Santa Clara County, California—which is Silicon Valley—and Broomfield County, Colorado—which is the Denver area—have the highest values in the United States at 125.4 each; Hancock County, Tennessee, which is located along the Kentucky-Tennessee border in the eastern region has the lowest index value in the country at 61.7.

Kentucky Innovation Index by County

Innovation Index
Source:, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. Work was conducted by the Purdue Center for Regional Development, the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, and other research partners.

Efforts by the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship within the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the Innovation Network for Entrepreneurial Thinking (iNET) within the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky, as well as Kentucky’s Innovation Network, a partnership between the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, are designed to stimulate entrepreneurialism, foster commercialization, and improve the state’s innovation capacity – essential elements for our collective future.

To read more about innovation in Kentucky, check out the 2015 Kentucky Annual Economic Report, recently released by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.

– CLX Economic Development Team

Commerce Lexington Update

  • Piramal Enterprises Limited, an Indian firm based in Mumbai, has acquired Coldstream Laboratories  for $30.6 million. Coldstream was founded in 2007 and controlled by the University of Kentucky research foundation.  Coldstream is a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) focused on the development and manufacturing of sterile injectable products.  Coldstream currently employs 91 people.

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