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Report: State Farm Plays Key Role In Illinois R&D Landscape

State Farm HQ
State Farm was issued 200 patents in 2018, ranking it No. 4 behind only Caterpillar, IBM, and Motorola Mobility.

A new report shows State Farm is most of the top patent-producing companies in Illinois.

State Farm was issued 200 patents in 2018, ranking it No. 4 behind only Caterpillar, IBM, and Motorola Mobility, according to the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition’s latest Illinois Innovation Index. Illinois ranked 7th in patents issued to businesses in the U.S., with 6,788 patents in 2018.

With State Farm and Allstate both based in Illinois, the state is home to over 10% of all national research-and-development investment in finance and insurance, the report found. That’s the third most among states.

“With State Farm in Bloomington-Normal and some of the finance and banking industries in the rest of the state and Chicago as the Midwest hub for that kind of activity, it’s kind of made the state a hotspot for that,” said Matt Bragg, director of data and policy for the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition (ISTC), a nonprofit that’s based in Chicago.

Following a period of relative stagnation, Illinois-based business R&D jumped by more than $1 billion in 2016, reaching $13.7 billion, ISTC found. Illinois’ single-year business R&D growth outpaced the national average from 2015 to 2016, growing by 8%, compared with 5.3% nationally.

Illinois’ biggest R&D sectors are pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, and machinery, thanks to companies like Caterpillar. The fastest-growing sector by far has been food.

“It’s really encouraging in the sense that it seems like the state is going in the right direction,” Bragg said.

R&D activity at Illinois’ universities reached $2.5 billion in 2017, up from around $2.4 billion in 2016. This level of university R&D activity eclipses the state’s previous high-water mark, set in 2013. Illinois’ university R&D is more concentrated in medical and computer fields, the ISTC found.

Illinois’ university R&D is led by major research institutions like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“But that’s not to say that schools like Illinois State and others that are in that midrange size aren’t important when we look at the state as a whole, and especially those centers of gravity in regions of the state,” said Bragg. “(ISU) has really done a commendable job of continuing and growing their research efforts over the past few years, especially it the face of what has been a challenging budget situation for the past several years. We’ve seen Illinois State keep growing and keep chugging along.”

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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