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RETINA eyes links to tech companies

John Seelmeyer
jseelmeyer@nnbw.biz

As Ian Grieve looks around northern Nevada, he sees lots of small companies built on software and related technologies.

But Grieve, who has a long career in technology companies large and small, doesn’t see enough connections between the region’s often-isolated tech companies.

And he often sees that they are wasting effort reinventing a wheel that someone else just down the street invented just a few weeks ago — and someone a little farther down the street reinvented a couple of months earlier.



RETINA, a newly created for-profit venture launched by Grieve in Reno, looks to build those connections. (The company’s name is an acronym for “Regional Technology and Innovation Association.”)

The company, Grieve says, has a three-fold focus.



First is the creation of links between technology companies.

“There are incredibly talented local companies working very hard and doing well in the tech sector here but they operate like tiny islands,” he says.

That means that they’re not often sharing technologies, and they’re burning time and money writing software that might be available through a licensing deal with a neighbor. And Grieve says they’re often missing opportunities to flow work between one another.

Second, RETINA expects to deliver a pool of business-administration resources — bookkeeping and human resources services, for instance — that otherwise would consume the otherwise-creative hours of technology startups.

Third, Grieve — who migrated to the United States after graduation from England’s Liverpool John Moores University — has aligned RETINA with similar entities in the United Kingdom. He’s working with British companies that want to partner with technology companies in Reno.

RETINA will take a commission on deals that it arranges.

“It’s found money for the companies,” he says. “It’s business they wouldn’t have had without RETINA.”

Two groups of executives from the United Kingdom will visit northern Nevada this autumn to visit with executives of technology companies and economic-development agencies.

About a dozen northern Nevada companies — all of them involved either in software development or some facet of integrated-circuit manufacturing — have signed on with RETINA so far.

Grieve, who developed his technological chops in jobs ranging from a stint as an executive with Sony Computer Entertainment to experience as chief executive officer with the Reno-based game developer 5000ft, thinks northern Nevada needs only connecting tissues before its technology companies become a West Coast hub for innovation.

While the region is close to Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s technology sector, housing and other living costs in northern Nevada remain affordable.

And the state’s tax environment, Grieve says, continues to draw entrepreneurs.

His mantra: “Build it in Reno, show it in Las Vegas.”

RETINA has drawn interest from Reno-area officials as Grieve pitches the concept at community meetings.

“It’s a fascinating concept,” says Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger. “ If we come together as a region we can make a much stronger impressions on the world tech community.”