Growing Idaho’s Innovation Economy
by Malcolm Hong, photos by ITC
When most people think of Idaho, the first thing that often comes to mind is our state’s iconic potatoes. Although our ability to grow the world’s best potatoes is well known, most people don’t know that Idaho is just as good at growing technology companies. According to a 2016 study by non-profit CompTIA, Idaho has the second-fastest growing tech sector in the nation.
Just like potatoes, Idaho technology companies need to be nurtured for optimal results. That’s why the Idaho Technology Council (ITC, IdahoTechCouncil.org) plays an important role in fostering the growth of our state’s technology industry. Founded by Jay Larsen, the ITC was organized to help Idaho technology companies start, grow, and thrive.
The ITC has grown into an organization with over 250 members large and small. Funded and led by private industry and state universities, the ITC provides a focused approach in tackling the obstacles to tech growth in Idaho. The ITC focuses on three main areas that create a strong environment for Idaho tech companies: talent, access to capital, and R&D commercialization. The ITC has made a significant impact through the vision and hard work of its members, volunteers, and partners.
One of the signature events the ITC organizes is its annual software conference, develop.idaho (DevelopIdaho.org), to promote the state’s growing technology sector. The conference
helps Idaho technology companies by connecting entrepreneurs, software professionals, and industry. Because software trends change quickly, develop.idaho plays an important role in helping attendees learn new technical concepts, find inspiration to start businesses, or evolve their existing companies. We’re excited to welcome Gregg Kaplan, founder of Redbox, as our keynote speaker this year.
While other events might teach the how of coding, develop.idaho answers the why, through creating a vision for the possibilities in Idaho’s tech industry. Attendees can expect to find inspiration through learning from software visionaries who have built startups, grown into high-level positions, and generated growth in Idaho companies. Finally, develop.idaho provides valuable insights on business development, which is critical for new entrepreneurs and startups seeking to break into the market.
Students can attend for free in the efforts to grow our state’s future tech professionals. Students who attend develop.idaho walk away with valuable connections, a better understanding of Idaho’s tech industry, and sometimes even an internship or job offer. Additionally, event revenue is allocated for scholarships to Idaho computer science students. Regardless of the level of background knowledge that an attendee brings to the event, he or she will walk away with new ideas and a better understanding of Idaho’s tech industry.
This year’s develop.idaho takes place at Jack’s Urban Meeting Place (JUMP) on Wednesday, September 14, and registration is open at DevelopIdaho.org. Panel topics include latest industry trends, such as the Internet of Things and Application Security. Matt Rissell, founder of TSheets.com, will be our afternoon keynote speaker. To help new Idaho companies, eight Idaho startups will have the opportunity to present at the conference. Following the afternoon conference, attendees will be able to meet the companies at a cocktail reception. Many Idaho companies are sponsoring the event, including Presenting Sponsor Perkins Coie, Host Sponsors Simplot and Boise State’s Department of Computer Science, TechMix Sponsor Truckstop.com, and more.
The ITC wants to keep up Idaho’s momentum in the tech sector, which is why we need community support for events like develop.idaho. Growth, whether for potato fields or technology companies, doesn’t always come easily. But through the support of the community and events like develop.idaho, growth will come—and it will benefit the entire state, not just those directly involved in our tech sector.