Illinois’ recent innovation bump could be a sign of bigger trends to come.
The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition said spending on research and development spiked $1 billion to $17.5 billion in 2016, the most recently available year for data. That’s after a slump in spending over the past several years.
The numbers are part of the 2019 Illinois Innovation Index.
Matthew Bragg is the director of data and policy for the coalition.
“For us, I think it’s really just sort of monitoring things and seeing if this is kind of an outlier in terms of this sort of increase in R&D, or if this is the start of a larger trend," he said.
The bulk of the growth was in the food and IT sectors.
Last year, Caterpillar filed for 338 new patents. That’s more than any other Illinois-based company.
“They’re doing a lot of work around the construction site of the future, right. Unmanned vehicles and computer vision, and things that are kind of on the next wave of how construction and those types of things will work in the future," Bragg said.
Research and development at Illinois universities also hit a high-water mark of $2.5 billion in 2017. Most of that work is in the medical sector.