Research and design projects into Massachusetts and California have plunged over the past year, though other US states have seen a significant rise.

According to fDi Markets data, Massachusetts, which traditionally has been a strong base for R&D, has seen the number of incoming greenfield R&D projects drop by 80% in 2009.

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The east coast state is not the only one to experience such a drop. Michigan also has seen its number of new R&D projects reduced by 50% this year. California also posted a 50% decrease in R&D project numbers compared with the 2008 figure. A year ago, California recorded 12 projects against six in 2009. But, despite this fall, California has remained the top destination between 2003 and 2009: 29 projects have been launched to date.

Some other states fought their way back to R&D prominence after a slide. Figures reveal that Florida, which recorded a decrease of 75% last year, went up 50% in 2009.

However, the most impressive jump comes from Texas. Starting from a very low base, the state has achieved a higher number of R&D projects so far this year than in any year since 2003. Between 2008 and 2009, the number of projects launched has been increased by more than 65%.

Texas has been successful in luring companies from other states as well. SuperPower, a company that makes high-temperature superconducting wire for electric utilities, announced this summer that it will relocate its R&D functions from its headquarters site in Schenectady, New York, to the University of Houston’s Texas Center for Superconductivity. The company has a long-term contract with the university to further develop the company’s technology.

SuperPower used to separate its research and manufacturing activities but decided to develop R&D.

“We have been transitioning from purely research to being commercially focused,” said company spokeswoman Trudy Lehner. The company plans to maintain its manufacturing operations in Schenectady for the foreseeable future. About 70 people will remain employed there.

SuperPower also announced that it set a world record by producing wire measuring 1065 metres long that carries a minimum current of 282 ampere. Last year, the company managed the $27m construction of a 350-metre cable project that connects substations in Albany and Menands.

Texas has posted 637 R&D projects – all sectors included – between 2003 and 2009. It reached the third position, after leading state California which has recorded 952 projects, and second placed New York with 714 projects.

Cecile Sourbes