Technology companies are moving to or establishing operations in the Reno-Tahoe region and it's no accident. Built on a foundation for the growth of technology, some of the biggest names in technology such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Tesla have already established operations in our region. We're also seeing a flurry of startup activities in our region, from fintech to cybersecurity and blockchain.
Reno also echoes the qualities desired by many young entrepreneurs and creatives - quality of life, affordable cost of living, a bursting art and food scene, and an abundance of outdoor activities having Lake Tahoe and several world-class ski resorts all within one-hour drive.
This fall marks five years since the opening of the downtown Reno co-working environment. Over this time, the Innevation Center has acted on its mission statement to advance Nevada's innovation economy by providing startups and entrepreneurs with resources and connections, and providing a catalyst for accelerating regional innovation with the ultimate objective of spurring economic growth, jobs and investment.
The accomplishments over the past five years are tangible:
370 jobs have been created by Innevation Center companies and organizations. $88 million in private or venture capital funding has been raised by Innevation Center companies.
A laser-cutting, rather than a traditional ribbon-cutting, marked the formal opening of the Innevation Center in September 2015. As a packed room of guests looked on, the laser cutter from the facility's Makerspace cut out an intricate image of the Innevation Center logo.
"What a proud moment," said then-Governor and today-University President Brian Sandoval. "We will look back and say this was the beginning of something really big. This new building is symbolic of the new Nevada and the emergence of the University and the emergence of a new economy for Nevada."
Rob Roy, founder of Switch, a world leader in data-center development and operations, was on hand to commemorate his company's support of the project. Switch funded the initial interior build-out of the Innevation Center and also suggested the name which takes the "no" out of innovation.
A spirit of collaboration was set that first day and it has continued. Mridul Gautam, vice president for research and innovation, remarked "The Innevation Center brings people, organizations and resources together. It has served and continues to serve as a critical piece of infrastructure to advance economic diversification in our region."
"When you think about it, the Innevation Center was a startup venture itself. It was an experiment," Gautam said. "We had to make it a welcoming place, and we had to involve solid, experienced entrepreneurs who had done great things and would attract early-stage entrepreneurs."
Even now, with COVID-19 precautions in place and the building open to the public by appointment only, the Innevation Center, which is part of Research & Innovation, remains a hub of activity and collaboration. As of summer 2020, the Innevation Center had 68 active, member companies and organizations representing 242 individual members.
"The Innevation Center team has been very deliberate in making the Innevation Center into an open, inclusive space where anyone can take advantage of its trainings and services," said Ellen Purpus, assistant vice president for enterprise and innovation. "In addition, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Reno entrepreneurial community. They have fully embraced us and helped ensure that our experiment would work."
"I want (the Innevation Center) to continue to be in beta mode, always changing, analyzing, improving, keeping up with the times," said Gautam.
"We have to continue being a hub and a magnet that attracts creatives, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technical experts and our faculty and students," said Gautam. "We want to be the place where early-stage companies come not just to be there, but to be there because they want to grow, they want to push."
The Innevation Center is open to the community through a membership model and this sets the stage for University students, faculty and staff (for whom memberships are free) to engage with entrepreneurs, investors, commercialization experts and community leaders.