Utah has remained in the top 10 — even moving up a notch — in a closely watched ranking of top technology and science states.

Utah finished eighth overall in a study by the Milken Institute, a California-based economic think tank. The state was ranked ninth in both 2002 and 2004, the first two times the nonprofit, independent institute released reports. Massachusetts ranked first in the Milken Institute's 2008 State Technology and Science Index, while Arkansas was last.

The index considers 77 indicators that are categorized into five major components. Utah finished as the top-ranked state in the category of technology concentration and dynamism, seventh in human-capital investment, 11th in technology and science work force, 16th in risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure, and 17th in research and development inputs.

Utah also was first in a component in the dynamism ranking, for the net formation of high-tech establishments per 10,000 business establishments.

"Being ranked No. 1 in technology concentration and dynamism by the prestigious Milken Institute is an amazing recognition for Utah's technology industry," said Richard Nelson, president and chief executive officer of the Utah Technology Council.

"Last year, we received another No. 1 dynamism ranking by another outstanding national think tank, the Kauffman Foundation. Being No. 1 in technology concentration isn't a surprise, as Utah's technology and high-growth companies have been recognized by the Inc. 500 at the top nationally on a per-capita basis for the past number of years," he said.

Nelson noted that Utah's tech industry grew more than 10 percent during the past year, to 5,200 companies.

Jeff Edwards, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corp. of Utah, said the Milken results "carry a lot of weight" when companies, or the site selectors they hire, consider states for operations.

"It really does have an impact on the final decision," Edwards said. "And I think this type of ranking validates what we're doing here."

The Milken study paints a picture of what's happening in the state — the climate for business and the climate for innovation, he said.

While the state has spent a lot of time and effort in successfully recruiting companies to the state, Edwards said, a parallel effort is needed to develop companies in-state. Those indigenous companies typically remain loyal to the state, are stable and experience long-term growth. Those same entrepreneurs who start those companies often sell them and move on to start more, being serial entrepreneurs.

"We want to encourage that," he said, "to have them stay and create new businesses."

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