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South Carolina not the least-innovative U.S. state, but far from the leader of the pack

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Cornell University, Insead and the World Intellectual Property Organization place the United States at a solid No. 4 of the 128 nations in their annual Global Innovation Index, behind Switzerland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In 2016, the U.S. spent an estimated $514 billion on research and development — more than any other country in the world — according to Wallethub.

Source: WalletHub

Drilling down a little more locally, however, the picture isn't quite as rosy. Wallethub compared the 50 states and Washington, D.C., across 18 key indicators of innovation-friendliness, including share of professionals in science, technology, engineering and math; per-capita spending on research and development; and density of tech companies.

South Carolina is No. 41, with an Innovation Index of 28.29 — for comparison, Washington, D.C., the nation's most innovative spot, had an index of 70.87.

South Carolina ranked No. 36 for its human capital and 47th for innovation environment. Read more about Wallethub's methodology.

Human capital includes STEM employment, eighth-grade math and science performance (see more about why that may be a weakness for the Palmetto State), and production of peer-reviewed scientific articles, among other factors.

Innovation environment encompasses the R&D spending mentioned above, plus tax-friendliness, entrepreneurial activity and households with Internet access, as well as several other data points.

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