Vermont, California and Idaho were among the 10 states with the most patent activity in 2011, according to the State Entrepreneurship Index by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Here's what's triggering the innovation.
Minnesota has pioneers in a diverse range of industries -- health care, retailing, manufacturing and engineering.
"Much of Minnesota's economy is homegrown. That's spurred innovation in the state for decades," said Bill Blazer, spokesman for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Industry leaders known for research and development -- including the Mayo Clinic, Medtronic (MDT), 3M (MMM) and Spam maker Hormel Foods (HRL) -- have all gotten their start in the state.