Vision. Big Ideas. Entrepreneurship. Start-Up Incubation.
Welcome to the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center. It’s already home to over a dozen technology start-ups with more than 60 organizations involved with the Center. These companies span technology and non-profits to individual entrepreneurs.
First, a little bit of history. The Innevation Center celebrated its opening in the fall of 2015. The concept started when the City of Reno officials approached the University of Nevada about acquiring a 4-story 25,000 square foot, city-owned building downtown.
Our forward-looking University recognized the opportunity and developed the business and entrepreneurship center. Switch, a global technology company and leader in the design and operation of advanced data centers, funded the extensive interior build-out for the Innevation Center.
The result was a Center and regional enterprise named to take the “no” out of innovation. The University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center is designed to empower Nevada’s next generation of economic leaders. It does this by igniting the creative and entrepreneurial spirits in University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty, community creatives, makers, economic developers, and emerging global companies.
The best way to think about the Innevation Center is as a collaborative enterprise or bridge to accelerate the growth of the innovation-driven economy in our region.
How does the Innevation Center do it? By offering resources such as conference rooms, co-working space, and a top-tier fully equipped Makerspace, the Center creates opportunities for a range of businesses, entrepreneurs, makers, and dreamers.
More on Makerspace. It’s a lab designed to help students, companies, and startups get to market as quickly as possible. Makerspace is the connection to equipment that is not always easy to access in the early stages of development. Makerspace has 3D printers for initial prototyping. From there, the idea can be transferred to CNC machines and further refined. The Center also offers a vinyl cutter, laser cutter, and hand tools.
In addition, as an investment in workforce development, doors to a K-12 Robotics Center were opened in 2020, giving young robotics teams access to state-of-the-art fields and practice space.
Location, Location, Location. No one can deny Reno has and continues to see a surge in growth and development, particularly in the last 10 years. It’s a boom in both large tech companies and entrepreneurial start-ups. Reno is the epicenter of that momentum. There is no better location for the Innevation Center than Reno.
You may ask how the Innevation Center is staffed. The Center does have a small, highly talented professional staff. The glue, though, is the student staff. At any time, the Center will have between 10 to 15 incredible students who keep the facility running. They handle everything from 3D printer operation in the Makerspace to managing the invoicing of over 200 members at the front desk.
The public can apply for membership. Members have full access to the co-working space, Makerspace, and all of the benefits of the center. Furthermore, there are Day Pass, Makerspace Day Pass, Standard, and Annual Membership types available at very reasonable pricing.
What is “very cool” about the Innevation Center? Everything, of course, but Makerspace stands out. Having the resources at your fingertips to build your prototype and run your business from the same building is an amazing opportunity for start-ups.
Success stories? There are many, but one story is memorable. Many years ago, a small group of students came down to use Makerspace for their senior capstone project at the University. They mastered the equipment and became fixtures of the Makerspace community. By graduation, they had created a functioning prototype.
These students did not stop there. They followed their dreams and founded Adarct Technologies, which has recently secured $400,000 in funding from a Nevada-based start-up competition. They have since outgrown what Innevation Center space had to offer and are pursuing expansion.
Challenges for the Center? The COVID-19 pandemic made a huge impact on co-working spaces across the world. The Innevation Center was not immune to the loss of some of its memberships and much lower use of Center space. Membership is back on the upswing. The Center now hosts mixers and larger events, such as Reno Startup Week.
There is one question that is often asked about the Innevation Center. That question is, “Is the Innevation Center and its resources only available to University of Nevada students?” The answer is this University resource serves the entire Reno community, not just the student population.
The University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center believes that everyone is a maker and that making should be accessible to all. For all of you that have ever entertained bringing your entrepreneurial dreams to life, the Innevation Center is there for you.
If you want to learn more about the Innevation Center and what it can provide, you have an opportunity right around the corner at NCET Tech Wednesday on October 11.
Sign up early for the Innevation Center’s presentation from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. with networking from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. During your visit, you will hear and learn about:
- 3D printers. How they work, what are the different types, and their capabilities and limitations.
- Large format printers and vinyl cutters.
- Laser cutting/etching machines.
- CNC mills/lathes/routers.
- The newly reopened wood shop.
- What the future holds for the Innevation Center.
So don't be late. Register now by visiting ncetevents.org.
Bill Leonard is VP of Communications at NCET and a freelance B2B & SaaS content writer of conversion-driven customer case studies and white papers. Connect with Bill at Case Study Ink on LinkedIn. NCET produces education and networking events to help people explore business and technology.