BOSTON (CBS) — A California think tank has named Massachusetts number one on their State Technology and Science Index — again.

Mass. has held the top slot since 2002.

The Milken Institute creates their rankings by looking at five sub-indexes, three of which Mass. placed first in. They are: research and development inputs, risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, human capital investment, technology and science workforce, and technology concentration and dynamism.

The sheer number of colleges in Massachusetts is a big push. It is clear education is highly coveted. According to the Institute, “Massachusetts ranks fifth, second, and first for the recent rate per 1,000 workers of bachelor’s, advanced degrees, and Ph.Ds. in science and engineering, respectively.”

The report said, “Massachusetts has maintained its lead position in each edition of STSI, not only because of its tremendous concentration of universities, but also its ability to develop and evolve its entrepreneurial system.”

More specifically, top schools like Harvard and MIT are partnering with companies to put millions towards research projects. Local expertise and “the concentration of financial investment Massachusetts has developed over the decades will support the state’s high-tech economy.”

The legislature also proved the state’s commitment to science and technology with a new non-compete law in 2018, the report said. “Massachusetts’ enforcement remains more restrictive than California’s, but the changes send a clear signal that the state is less tied to the interests of incumbent firms than in the past.”

So where is there room to improve?

In order for Massachusetts to continue its success, the Institute suggests the state addresses student debt. “The average 2016 graduate in Massachusetts has $31,563 of debt, and 60 percent of students will have at least some debt. Maintaining a competitive high-tech workforce will require higher education not only to teach viable work-related skills, but also to avoid excluding the bottom of the income bracket.”

New Hampshire broke into the top ten this year, rising from 11th in 2016 to ninth place. Connecticut slid from sixth to 14th, and Rhode Island went from 15th to 19th.

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