Last fall, as nearly 1,000 participants and guests gathered for the annual dinner banquet hosted by the the Idaho Technology Council, I marveled at how far the organization has come since its founding in 2009.
The ITC’s mission is straightforward: to help technology companies in Idaho start, grow, and thrive. Through the leadership of the private sector, the ITC brings together industry, education, research, investment and government throughout the state to champion the growth of Idaho’s technology and innovation ecosystem.
Idaho has a long history of innovation. Philo Farnsworth pioneered television technology, J.R. Simplot invented the frozen french fry. Micron Technology is now the only U.S.-based memory-chip maker. Today, nearly 50,000 people work in Idaho’s technology and innovation industry, which is projected to increase at a rate of almost 14 percent over the next 10 years. The success of this industry is vital to the future growth of Idaho’s economy.
To support the growth of Idaho’s tech ecosystem, the ITC conducts regular events, including peer-to-peer forums, CEO roundtables, industry conferences and networking events. In addition, the ITC’s task forces and committees harness the efforts of many volunteers who are committed to the success of the ITC’s mission.
One of these committees is the ITC’s Research, Development and Commercialization Committee, which has been meeting monthly since February. The RDC Committee’s mission is to strengthen research, development and commercialization activity in Idaho as measured by R&D funded, capital raised, jobs created or retained, and IP-based companies started.
The RDC Committee has identified and is setting priorities for a number of key initiatives. One is analyzing and developing a framework for public/private research and collaboration. A second is developing plans for a major conference to focus on the successful commercialization of R&D in the marketplace. A third is developing a website to make resources available to Idaho technology companies. A fourth is gathering and developing quantifiable metrics to measure R&D and commercialization activity in Idaho.
The ITC’s growth and accomplishments over the past six years are a tribute to its member-driven organization and to the tremendous support from a wide range of partners in the private, civic and public sectors. Through such collaboration, we can continue to create a technology ecosystem that will help drive Idaho’s economy.