Research and development (R&D), and the innovation it brings, represents a critically important driver of the modern U.S. economy. Technology-based economic development is seen as key to state competitiveness.
R&D is important to Mississippi as it generates advanced technologies and innovations that launch new commercial products, new industries, or provide the means to enhance productivity in existing industries.
Examples of how R&D is important to the energy industry can be found in sophistication of drilling technologies, more automated and efficient refining and combustion processes, cleaner plant emissions, and improved composite materials.
Patents are one measure of R&D driven innovation. However, Mississippi produced only 17 patents in energy and energy-related technologies over the course of the recent decade, with one company accounting for 7 out of the 17.
Mississippi ranks 35th in the nation in terms of total gross domestic product (GDP), and the state has a lower rank in terms of industry R&D performance – ranking 43st. In comparison, Mississippi’s academic research institutions are “punching above their weight”, ranking Mississippi 33rd in academic R&D expenditures.
Mississippi’s research institutions perform well in federal R&D funding for research in science and engineering disciplines that may have direct relevance to energy issues. Because Mississippi has few commercial companies operating R&D centers in the state (especially in the energy space), the role of Mississippi’s research universities as innovation engines is critically important.