Thirteen might be Pennsylvania's lucky number.

The Milken Institute, a California-based think tank, has ranked states according to their science and technology assets. The commonwealth was No. 13 with a score of 63.23 points.

To make this ranking even sweeter, it was up three spots from four years ago, the last time the institute issued its science and technology rating.

The institute used five categories to come up with its rankings. The categories and the state's rank in each were: research and development inputs, No. 11; risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, No. 7; human capital investment, No. 14; technology and science work force, No. 15; and technology concentration and dynamism, No. 28.

The scores in the first four categories show a consistency that means a stable base is in place. The concentration-and-dynamism category's low score might be a function of geography, with the state being split between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Harrisburg-State College in the middle, thereby diluting the possibility of a Silicon Valley effect.

The rankings and scores of Pennsylvania's neighbors were: Maryland, No. 2, 80.04; Virginia, No. 6, 70.23; New Jersey, No. 12, 63.44; Delaware, No. 14; 62.40; New York, No. 15; 62.22; Ohio, No. 36, 45.25; and West Virginia, No. 49, 30.49.

The state has the potential to move up.

First, growth generates growth, and eastern and south-central Pennsylvania sit in the middle of an East Coast science-and-technology corridor that encompasses nine of the top 15 states -- Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York; Connecticut (No. 7), Massachusetts (No. 1) and New Hampshire (No. 9).

Second, southwestern Pennsylvania is going to get an enormous boost in assets in science and technology because of Westinghouse Electric Co.'s decision to keep its headquarters in our region. With the demand for nuclear power expected to increase for years to come, the company expects to hire at last 1,000 employees, most of whom will have science and technology backgrounds and degrees. This is important because an operation that size tends to draw related businesses and to create spin-offs.

Pennsylvania has something important on which to build. It's now a matter of developing its potential.

-- Beaver County Times

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