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.
Hypertherm, which makes metal-cutting products, has a "patent wall" in its home office that features framed copies of 100 patents.
Patents per thousand residents: 2.44
New Hampshire has benefited from its close proximity to some of the best research schools located next door in Massachusetts.
"Some of the best brain power comes here from MIT and elsewhere to launch inventions and businesses because of our lower business costs," said Michael Bergeron of New Hampshire's Department of Resources and Economic Development.
One patent powerhouse is Hypertherm, which makes advanced metal-cutting products used in shipbuilding, heavy equipment and oil and gas.
"Hypertherm files new patents every few weeks," said Bergeron. "They even have a wall that is filled with 100 patents from ceiling to floor."