It quickly became standing room only during Wednesday’s grand opening of the International Innovation Center @ Vegas, an 11,000 square foot coworking space in downtown created by the City of Las Vegas.
City officials, including Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and local business leaders were on hand to officially welcome the center’s seven tenants, which range from emerging to established tech companies.
“In downtown Las Vegas, that’s where innovation begins and innovation looks to the future,” Goodman said. “Every young person that’s into technology, where should they be looking is right here.”
The center began welcoming its first tenants earlier this year and now is at capacity, according to Las Vegas City Manager Scott Adams.
“We’re looking for more space,” Adams said. “We’re looking for buildings to replicate what we’ve done here and create more.”
He said there’s enough interest from companies to fill up to 44,000 square feet of space.
The International Innovation Center is seen as a step forward by city officials in pushing their vision of making Las Vegas an attractive hub for startups and tech firms.
In 2016, Las Vegas City Council approved a resolution to declare downtown as an Innovation District, which gave the city an opportunity to allow for companies to test out their smart technology such as autonomous vehicles, water technology and virtual reality.
Companies can apply for a lease at the innovation center for a period of three to 12 months during the pilot period. If their test project is successful, the technology may be considered for deployment by the city of Las Vegas.
Once a company’s lease is done, it can work with the city’s Economic and Urban Development Department to secure a new office space in the area.
“You always hear these stories about companies like Dell starting out of their garage,” Adams said. “Well, we hope this is their garage. The bigger companies, we’re hoping they’ll put their toe in the pond and move a bigger presence to Las Vegas.”
Terbine, a data marketplace for the Internet of Things, relocated from Silicon Valley to the Innovation Center this year.
Chief Executive David Knight said he has no regrets. He said initial meetings with Switch founder and CEO Rob Roy and Zappos founder and CEO Tony Hsieh allowed him to pick their brains on why it’s beneficial to grow a tech firm in Las Vegas.
“Tony Hsieh has come to visit me here (after moving) and he had four guys following him with cases of beer,” Knight said. “And I said, so that’s how it’s going to be with Tony and we christened the place.”
Knight said the idea of having startups mingling with established companies such as Tokyo-based telecommunications provider NTT at the center is helpful.
However, Terbine already is outgrowing its space and Knight is looking to move his 30 employees into another office in downtown.
Hojin Kim, vice president of North America for cybersecurity firm SonicWall, said it’s been great having an office located at the innovation center, especially since it works with the city on its smart technology initiatives.
“We make sure a lot of these projects are implemented in a way that protects users’ data,” Kim said. “It’s been great. We’ve had a couple of events here with customers and prospects to showcase what we’re doing with the city and we actually have a couple more planned in the next couple months.”