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Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission

IGEM Vision

Idaho’s innovation ecosystem sustains a thriving and top-performing economy.

IGEM Mission

To create new enterprises and high-paying knowledge-based economy jobs by increasing strategic areas of research and development through targeted partnerships among industry, higher education and government that leverage new and existing resources.

Executive Summary

IGEM is a comprehensive strategy to enable Idaho’s stakeholders to collaborate and leverage resources with the goal of increasing the state’s knowledge-based economy. Successful implementation of IGEM strategies will increase the research capacity of Idaho’s universities in strategic areas, develop a world-class talent pool, and develop a dynamic consortium of industry, university and government partnerships. These economic drivers will generate globally competitive technologies, high-paying jobs, new startups and an expanded tax base. IGEM will create an innovation ecosystem to sustain a thriving and top-performing economy.

IGEM Strategies:

Invest in Strategic Research Build on existing university strengths.

  • Leverage Idaho industry strengths
  • Focus on research areas with large potential for commercialization
  • Focus on research with global markets and long- term relevance
  • Focus on research that capitalizes on Idaho’s location, culture and capabilities

Attract Outstanding Innovators in Areas of Strength and Opportunity. Provide incentives to encourage senior research faculty to relocate to Idaho.

  • Develop collaborative research teams around areas of strength
  • Engage more students in research

Increase Research Funding. Invest in research infrastructure.

  • Provide research proposal support to faculty
  • Increase industry engagement
  • Promote interdisciplinary centers of excellence

Invest in Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Convert research and innovations into commercial technology.

  • Invest in knowledge transfer
  • Provide the mechanism and the resources for gap funding
  • Build a process for hands-on assistance for start-ups

IGEM Overview

students in lab

At this critical juncture in Idaho’s history, when a number of neighboring states have implemented comprehensive plans for economic development through investment in higher education and the innovation ecosystem, Idaho is challenged to adopt a course of action that will enable it to successfully compete in the knowledge-based economy in the years ahead.

Idaho’s creative culture is a key strength to realizing its potential as a top-performing economy. Idaho innovators in all sectors possess the expertise and insights that, if systematically nurtured, expanded, shared, and leveraged, will lead to new opportunities that increase the economy. While many public-private collaborations in Idaho are underway, these are often ad-hoc individual efforts with limited scope and capacity to move the economy forward. What is of critical need is a comprehensive strategy to increase Idaho’s knowledge-based economy that commits industry, higher education and government to a joint plan with relevant metrics to gauge its success. IGEM will provide the leadership and impetus to realize this synergistic future.

A central component of the IGEM strategy is to exploit the links between the strength of Idaho universities and industry. Focused prioritization of four strategic research areas where Idaho’s universities have demonstrated strength, and that have the potential to leverage targeted industry partnerships, will build joint opportunities to grow the knowledge-based economy.

Traditional Idaho industries such as agriculture, logging and mining will continue to play a vital and foundational role in the state’s economy. But it is clear that even these industries are dependent on technology to remain globally competitive. Unless we act now, Idaho will lose out on capitalizing on the transitions occurring within these industries and generating the higher paying jobs in other industries that could transform the economy and bolster the earning power of the workforce.

Idaho’s performance in the technology sector is at best mixed. While Idaho is among the top states in the nation for entrepreneurship and innovation according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it is in the third tier of high-tech economies in a 2010 Milken Institute analysis. In the same survey, our neighbors Utah and Washington are in the top tier, with Utah leaping from 16th to 5th in risk capital and entrepreneurial infrastructure over the past two years. Idaho is ranked 27th in a 2010 Kauffman Foundation survey of knowledge-based state economies, while Washington is ranked 2nd, Utah 12th and Oregon 14th. Idaho is honored in the Kauffman survey with the No. 1 spot in the nation for new patents on a per capita basis, but this is largely the result of Micron’s and Hewlett Packard’s intellectual property strategies. In addition, the IP generated by these companies is not necessarily generating new enterprises in Idaho.

IGEM is the rallying cry that the State of Idaho needs to adopt to steer Idaho to greater economic strength and prosperity for its residents. The strides our neighboring states are making in increasing their knowledge-based economies underscore the importance of setting our future course now. For Idaho to compete in this global economy, it’s imperative that we too embrace strategies to support growth and job creation in our state. The starting gun has sounded and the race for a robust future in the knowledge economy is well underway. IGEM is a call-to-action to industry, higher education and government to take definitive action now and catch up with competition.


The IGEM initiative is focused on making Idaho a Top-20 economy in 3-5 years and a Top-10 economy in 10 years, according to annual state rankings by the Milken Institute and/or the Kaufmann Foundation. IGEM will be accountable for its progress in implementing strategies by tracking key metrics and sharing the results with all stakeholders through a transparent process that includes reports, presentations, website and other outreach. These metrics include:

In Phase I:

  • Number of senior researchers in key areas of strength recruited to Idaho universities
  • Number and dollar amount of external research grants awarded to expand research in areas of strength

In Phase II:

  • Number of invention disclosures filed for new technologies developed at Idaho research universities
  • Number of jobs generated by the inflow of federal and industry sponsored research dollars.

In Phase III:

  • New start-up companies based on university intellectual property
  • New tax revenues to the State of Idaho