Nick Smoot celebrates a successful festival with Labor Regional Manager Vicki Isakson.
No one knows for sure what the future holds, but some of the best visionaries and inventors in robotics, artificial intelligence and technology recently gathered to share their ideas.
The second annual Think Big Festival took place Aug. 20-22 in Coeur d’Alene.
Nick Smoot, creator of Innovation Collective and the Think Big Festival, assembled many speakers from across the United States.
Think Big Brings Big Names to Idaho
The Think Big lineup included Dr. William Torch, a prominent neurologist who invented the keyboard Stephen Hawking uses which allows him to type using eye movements.
Until recently, the high-tech industry cluster was relatively amorphous. Analysts chose industries that best suited the immediate objective – a “know it when you see it” approach, but that made it difficult to compare one analysis to any other. So in 2013 the Workforce Information Council, a federal-state organization set up under federal law, created a new, statistically robust high-tech taxonomy or classification procedure.
The taxonomy is based on the concentration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations within an industry. To qualify as high-tech, an industry must have 2.5 times the national average of so-called STEM occupations. The current national average is roughly 5 percent, meaning to qualify as high-tech, an industry must have at least 15 percent of all employment classified as STEM occupations.
The most recent industry assessment under the taxonomy, released in 2014, includes 31 industries ranging from computer systems design and related services, where STEM concentration was about 67 percent nationally, to resin, synthetic rubber and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing, where the STEM concentration was roughly 16 percent nationwide.
Idaho’s high technology industries had a difficult time during our most recent downturn and have yet to fully recover. The Idaho Department of Labor’s latest Idaho High-Tech Business Scan, found Idaho ranked last among the surrounding states in high-tech employment growth between 2007 and 2012 with a 4.9 percent decline. This decline was great enough to land Idaho near the bottom of all states as well – just above New Jersey and Delaware.
Before the recession, Idaho was doing much better. From 2002 and 2007 Idaho’s high-tech industries grew 11.4 percent. This still placed Idaho near the bottom among the border states, but the state was ranked above most in the nation at 16th. Four out of the six surrounding states landed in the top 10.
Looking at Idaho regionally, the southwestern part of the state, unsurprisingly, has the majority Continue reading