Techies in Silicon Beach and Silicon Valley might be surprised to learn that California didn’t top the Milken Institute’s biennial State Technology and Science Index.

The Golden State came in third in this year’s index, following Massachusetts and Maryland. In fact, California has never topped the list, which takes into account research and development funding, venture capital, and presence of tech hubs, among other criteria.

“It’s always worth remembering that despite the presence of Silicon Valley and a large presence of tech centers in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, that’s not the entire state,” said Kevin Klowden, Milken Institute’s managing economist and co-author of the report. “Whole chunks of the state are not particularly tech centered. Massachusetts has the advantage of being a smaller state with a huge concentration of universities and R&D input.”

California rose one position from the 2010 index due to the recovery of the tech and science industries following economic recession.

The report noted that California improved in three of five categories and saw a pickup in patents and venture capital from 2009 to 2010, the most recent dates available for that data.

Massachusetts, meanwhile, maintained its lead from previous years due to its solid ranking in the index’s five subcategories. Colorado and Washington rounded out the top 5.

The index, which has been published five times since 2002, measures the following: a state’s ability to attract funding; risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure; investment into human capital; the size and influence of the technology and science workforce, and the concentration of tech companies.

One of the biggest takeaways from the study, Klowden said, was the role that tech and science have played in the American economic recovery.

“California’s recovering is being led heavily by the tech sector,” said Klowden, also the director of Milken’s California Center. “San Jose has been one of the best performers in the country. Silicon Beach and other areas are benefiting from a tech resurgence.”