You may have seen references to Idaho’s “triangle of innovation,” a statewide initiative of the Idaho Technology Council. It’s the name connecting the three distinct regions of the state — southwest (anchored by Boise), north (Coeur d’Alene) and east (Pocatello/Idaho Falls).
There are robust tech-based activities in each of the regions, and the goal is to reach a point where the collaboration statewide moves beyond names or labels and creates a truly integrated, borderless innovation economy.
We’re not there yet, but we’re making progress. According to Colliers Idaho Market Review (mid-year 2015), the number of high-tech companies in the state grew 61 percent over the last 10 years and is projected to increase 13.7 percent over the next 10. Idaho businesses closed more than $15 billion in equity deals in 2015 — nearly twice the total from just two years ago — and tech represents a large piece of that pie. The growth is significant.
The challenge to all of us in the tech community is to build on those successes. The best way to do that is to strengthen the networks and relationships between tech-oriented institutions across the state.
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We have anchor companies such as Simplot, HP, Micron and the Idaho National Laboratory — organizations that contribute to the economy and fabric of Idaho. These companies have seeded countless other businesses and turned out some of the most influential tech minds in Idaho.
But are we leveraging those strengths fully? Have we exhausted the connections with the startup pipeline in Coeur d’Alene? Is the private sector fully leveraging the research activities at INL and the colleges and universities across the state?
Those things are happening in pockets. We know individuals and institutions are enthusiastic about the opportunities available through collaboration, but there is more to do.
This is the mission of the Idaho Technology Council, and we are working toward a more connected, mutually beneficial technology community. As with any successful collaboration, it starts with building relationships.
We have an upcoming event on Wednesday, Aug. 24, at Melaleuca, in Idaho Falls. It will be an exploration of activities and opportunities in Eastern Idaho. Representatives from some of Idaho’s fastest-growing companies will attend, including MWI Animal Health, Kount and AlertSense. Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper will be there. We plan to host similar events across the state as we work to build those relationships and fortify our triangle of innovation.
Jay Larsen is president and founder of the Idaho Technology Council. jaylarsen@ idahotechcouncil.org. This column appears in the July 20-Aug. 17, 2016, edition of the Idaho Statesman’s Business Insider magazine. Click here for the daily Statesman e-edition, including Business Insider (subscription required).