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.
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IBM's facility in Burlington is one of the world's largest producers of semiconductor technology.
Patents per thousand residents: 3.50
A large IBM(IBM) manufacturing facility is a big generator of patents in Vermont, as are the state's robust life sciences, burgeoning food manufacturing and microbrewing industries.
Technology research at the University of Vermont is also driving patents, said Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.
Some examples: University researchers developed wood coatings based on whey protein, a dairy byproduct and renewable resource. Vermont Natural Coatings uses it to make a full line of environmentally-safe floor and furniture finishes.
University researchers also helped develop genetic testing for the MSH2 gene. The tests help in the early detection of colorectal cancer.