Lawmakers Must Pursue Nevada’s Entrepreneurial Promise


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Entrepreneurship and innovation go hand in hand. Innovation is a creative process that renews and updates products or services by applying new features or other benefits to create new value. According to Barry Jaruzelski, Kevin Dehoff and Rakesh Bordia’s article “Smart Spenders: The Global Innovation 1000”, there are four key stages of innovation: ideation, project selection, product development, commercialization.

In 2011, Governor Brian Sandoval recognized the importance of entrepreneurship in his mission to move Nevada forward in response to the high unemployment rate and lack of professional diversity in the state. In efforts to make technology-based economic development a priority, “Catalyzing innovation in basic and emerging industries” has become one of the six state goals in Sandoval’s plan for a vibrant economy. , innovative and sustainable.

The goal included developing a statewide innovation and commercialization structure, increasing industry collaboration with universities and the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and building d ‘a support structure for entrepreneurs. The Nevada Knowledge Fund was also created to support this goal through a plan to stimulate entrepreneurship by linking higher education research (UNLV, UNR, DRI) to business needs.

The results are impressive. According to Michael Brown, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), the three Nevada research institutes received $ 32.5 million from the Knowledge Fund, which generated $ 39.8 million in research contracts. sponsored, $ 35.2 million in grants and donations, and $ 1.2 million in marketing revenue. In addition, 17 companies and 573 jobs were created, 38 companies moved to Nevada and 67 patents were filed. In exhibits sent to the Assembly’s Revenue Committee, UNLV credited the Knowledge Fund for launching the Black Fire Innovation facility in Las Vegas, and UNR reported the establishment of eight spinoff companies and more than 490 jobs.

It’s a fantastic start, but according to Karsten Heise, director of strategic programs at GOED, “The Knowledge Fund in its current form represents the most suitable instrument for the conditions and structure of the innovation economy of the country. Nevada which was in existence when it was adopted in 2011. ”In 2021, Nevada is experiencing significant momentum in entrepreneurship and associated startups, innovation centers and the establishment of supporting organizations including incubators, accelerators and investors.

Taking a turn in the legislative session is Assembly Bill 29 (AB29), a measure created to help evolve the focus of the Knowledge Fund to broaden it, including expanding innovation systems by adding scale and sustainability. Renamed the Nevada Innovation Account, the fund would target innovation capacity building, innovation transfer, innovation acceleration and the innovation project. All of this is needed to increase the effective formation of spin-off companies, create more jobs, and bring more investment dollars to Nevada. Where the Knowledge Fund focuses on ideation, project selection and product development, the Nevada Innovation Account will focus on commercialization, a critical step in innovation.

Recently, lawmakers came together to resolve budget differences and agreed to allocate $ 5 million to the Knowledge Fund over the next two years – half of the amount the fund has received in the past. There are fears that this reduction will slow the acceleration of innovation, job creation and new businesses. Equally concerning is the effect on resources and opportunities for new entrepreneurs trying to enter Nevada’s developing entrepreneur ecosystem. Do you remember the stages of innovation? What is the value of ideas if they are not commercialized?

The Knowledge Fund worked as intended, creating entrepreneurs, jobs and new businesses. The Innovation Account will build on this momentum by further catalyzing innovation for a vibrant, innovative and sustainable Nevada economy. However, cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurs in the Silver State and delivering on the promise of innovation made ten years ago will not be easy without proper funding.

Joshua Leavitt is the Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Society for Information Management, Las Vegas and the CEO and Founder of IONnovate, LLC.

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