By Katy Spence
As the year winds to a close and the MHTBA staff reflects on 2017, we’re struck by one overwhelming fact: Montana’s tech scene is awesome. Between high growth companies, interconnectivity among communities, and promises of huge funding on the horizon, we’re excited to look back on 2017’s highlights and what they could mean for 2018.
The Alliance sponsors nationally-recognized research through the Kauffman Foundation.
Conversations about entrepreneurship often focus on Silicon Valley, Boston or other major metropolitan areas, yet Missoula and Bozeman, Montana enjoy some of the highest levels of entrepreneurship in the nation in terms of startup and high-growth companies, as well as spinoff activities, according to a report funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The report on Montana’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystems found that Montana is unique in our level of entrepreneurship, dense networks of support, global businesses, high quality workforce, and high quality of life. Among the report’s impressive stats, researchers found Missoula and Bozeman rank 9th and 12th highest in startup rates among 394 areas in the U.S., and the proportion of high-growth firms is particularly high in Bozeman– higher than Denver (9th in the nation) and almost compatible with Washington, D.C. (1st in the nation).
Alliance members were responsible for $1 Billion Dollars in revenue in 2016, and that number is only going up.
The Alliance’s third annual industry survey found that Montana High Tech Business Alliance members were responsible for $1.09 billion in revenues, an increase from $867 million in 2015, and responding non-member firms generated an additional $487 million. In addition, the industry is growing at rates seven times faster than the statewide economy. In conjunction with the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the survey included responses from members of the statewide organization with more than 300 high-tech and manufacturing firms and affiliates as well as responses from 82 non-member high-tech and manufacturing companies.
Hundreds of attendees descend on Missoula, Montana for High Tech Jobs Summit at the University of Montana.
The second biannual Montana High Tech Jobs Summit drew a crowd of more than 700 people from across Montana and the country. The event was organized by Senator Steve Daines and his office, and the Alliance was proud to co-sponsor the event with the Montana Chamber of Commerce. Twelve Alliance member companies participated as panelists and moderators discussing topics like broadband access, cybersecurity, and job growth. The event culminated in a networking event for job-seekers and preceded the Alliance’s own Missoula member reception at First Interstate Bank.
The expansion of venture capital in Montana funds growing companies now and in the future.
Montana companies have been growing at an incredible pace, thanks to funding from venture capitalists like Alliance members Next Frontier Capital and Frontier Angels. Just this fall, Frontier Angels announced its intention to grow its membership of current and former CEOs and entrepreneurs from 35 to more than 100, allowing the group to increase its reach and investment power. Next Frontier Capital, also based in Bozeman, announced in October that it has aggregated $22 million toward its second round of funding. Next Frontier has invested in a number of high-growth companies, including Alliance members Clearas Water Recovery, Quiq, Orbital Shift, and IronCore Labs.
Montana’s tech scene gets boost in media coverage, including national outlets.
Between the Kauffman report, High Tech Survey, and the High Tech Jobs Summit, Montana’s tech scene was featured in dozens of news stories. The nation learned about Montana’s growing tech industry in Fast Company, CBS News, and U.S. News and World Report stories, and local and statewide outlets featured the Alliance and member companies regularly. To keep up with the hottest Montana tech news, be sure to stay connected through our newsletter, or subscribe to Alliance member Missoula Current’s Montana Business Weekly.
About the Author: Katy Spence is Staff Writer and Digital Content Specialist for the Montana High Tech Business Alliance. She worked previously with the Missoula Current and Treesource, and she’s just finishing up the Environmental Journalism Master’s Program at the University of Montana.
About the Publisher: Launched in 2014, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance is an association of more than 320 high tech and manufacturing companies and affiliates creating high-paying jobs in Montana. For more information visit MTHighTech.org.