The technology companies expanding operations into Nevada — like Figure — and those that have set up shop here and have then expanded to other states — like Switch — give Nevada a lot to be excited about these days. Nevada is even attracting attention from international players, like HopeRun, a Chinese Internet of Things (IoT) company that recently invested one million dollars in NevadaNano, the developer and manufacturer of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors. HopeRun and NevadaNano are working together on a comprehensive industrial IoT infrastructure for reducing emissions of methane, a top priority greenhouse gas.
If you’re not familiar with the term, an IoT device is any physical device that connects to the internet. Amazon’s Alexa is probably the most well known IoT device. But there is IoT everywhere these days. It’s in luggage (making it possible for passengers to track their checked luggage) and in HVAC systems (improving efficiency), in water filters (predicting maintenance needs) and in light switches (saving energy). In fact, what we’re seeing is just the beginning of the IoT boom. By 2020 there will be some 20.4 billion IoT devices, according to the research and advisory firm Gartner – that’s up from 8.4 billion IoT connected devices in 2016.
The IoT industry is growing all over the Silver State, especially in Northern Nevada. That’s thanks in part to the Reno “InNEVator” program, an eight-week bootcamp that works with sponsors to help introduce startups to new audiences in the community. Three companies that were part of the InNEVator’s most recent cohort have also attracted widespread attention in the U.S. and beyond.
“We’ve been able to attract international attention on the program thanks to the caliber of expertise in our region,” says Jim Sacherman, program co-director and director at the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center, powered by Switch. “As we grow the tech and startup communities in Northern Nevada, it’s imperative that we focus on our strengths. IoT is increasingly becoming our stalwart.”
Breadware, a company that moved to Reno from Santa Barbara, CA in 2018, designs the hardware and prototypes that other companies can use in their own IoT products. Breadware works with more than 150 companies around the world, including Fortune 500 companies like Target.
Another InNEVator company, Soapy Care is on a mission to reduce the spread of disease in developing countries, and with the hospitality industry in the western world. Their automated hand washing stations force good hand washing habits for employees and children. Soapy is based in Israel and is planning on setting up operations in Reno.
And Elva is an IoT startup in the pharmaceutical space. Elva helps people manage their medical treatments with a watch-like device and a smartphone app that keeps people connected with their pharmacist and care team.
One of the challenges for all of these companies has been finding qualified employees, and there’s even a new training program in Northern Nevada that should help. The Reno Technology Academy, part of Multnomah University, is now offering an IoT certification program that teaches students the coding and web development skills needed for IoT-based technology jobs. The certification program will go a long way in helping existing businesses expand and should also make Northern Nevada an even more appealing place for IoT companies to set up shop.
Ralph Whitten is President of NevadaNano