Idaho is among the nation’s leaders in innovation.
While the state only ranks 27th in the number of patents issued in 2013, on a per capita basis it ranks sixth, reflecting how truly innovative Idahoans are.
Micron Technology Inc. develops the largest number of patents followed by Round Rock Research, both based in Boise. The Idaho National Laboratory’s manager, Battelle Energy Alliance, also contributes a large number of patents.
But there is a significant contribution in individual patents. The Coeur d’Alene metropolitan area had 18 patents in 2011 – the most in a given year over the past decade. Bluewater Technologies in Hayden was responsible for a few, but most were from individuals.
Self-employment continues to be an important source of work. Most so-called nonemployer businesses – those with only the owner but no other employees – operate as unincorporated businesses, known as sole proprietorships, and may not be the owner’s principal source of income.
In 2012, there were 114,707 nonemployer businesses in Idaho, according to the Census Bureau. Only during the worst two years of the last recession and its aftermath did the state see a drop in that number – a loss of 3,877 nonemployer businesses in 2008 and a decline of 54 in 2010.
Several sectors flourished through the recession. Surprisingly, real estate managed to add 1,760 new nonemployer establishments from 2008 to 2010 and other services – car and equipment repair, nail and beauty salons, personal care services, laundry services and religious organizations, for example – added 1,340 establishments statewide.
The self-employment rate is the proportion of total employment made up of the unincorporated self-employed. According to the U.S. Census, the self-employment rate in Idaho was 7.9 percent in 2012. The highest self-employment rate by economic sector was 28 percent in other services. Construction was next at 17.2 percent and agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting and mining third at 16.6 percent.
Custer County had the highest self-employment rate in the state at 19.8 percent followed by Lemhi County at 18.4 percent and Idaho County at 14.8 percent. Only three counties in Idaho fell below the national rate of 6.3 percent — Elmore and Madison at 6.1 percent and Bannock at 5.9 percent.
Innovation, access to capital and collaboration are key elements.
Innovation transforms an idea into reality. In many cases, that reality results in businesses with no employees although most self-employed entrepreneurs eventually hire employees as their businesses grow and prosper.
Many organizations statewide and nationally offer funding, support and mentorship for startup companies:
- Idaho Small Business Development Center – Post Falls, Lewiston, Boise, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls
- Idaho Entrepreneurial Advantage
- Women’s Business Center – Boise
- MicroEnterprise Training & Assistance (META) – Boise
- Idaho Small Business Solutions
- Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) – Boise
- Idaho Nonprofit Center – Boise
- Idaho Technology Council – Boise
- B|LAUNCHED – Boise
- Startup Boise
- The Greenhouse – Boise
- The Water Cooler – Boise
- SCORE Treasure Valley – Boise
- Boise State University’s Venture College
- Boise State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship
- Boise State University’s The Kitchen Venture Lab
- TECenter – Boise State University’s Technology & Entrepreneurial Center (incubators)
- University of Idaho’s Idaho TechConnect – Moscow
- Kickstand – Boise
- Idaho National Laboratory – Idaho Falls
- Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center – Rexburg
- UP Idaho Falls
- Innovation Collective – Coeur d’Alene
- Bonner Business Center – Sandpoint
- Venture Capitol
- Highway 12 Ventures – Boise
- Angel Funds
- Boise Angel Fund (Boise Angel Alliance)
- The Treasure Valley Angel Fund – Boise
- Equity Funding
- Pennaluna’s PennStarter – Coeur d’Alene
Alivia.Metts@labor.idaho.gov, regional economist
(208) 457-8789, ext. 3486