i3 - May/June 2018 - 42
By Jeremy Snow
T EC H H U B
Cool Tech in the Desert
As a result, ridesharing companies, selfdriving startups, and well-funded apps
have come to Phoenix to ensure their
businesses can continue to grow. So far,
Phoenix and its nearby cities have
housed tech giants like Apple, Uber and
Yelp. In February, Intel invested an
additional $7 billion in its Chandler
facility and created 3,000 positions for
engineers and technicians, according to
the Phoenix Business Journal.
What Makes Phoenix Special?
Tech companies rave about Phoenix's
low cost of living, friendly tax policies
and small operating costs. According
to CTA's Innovation Scorecard, which
rates each state's support for innovation, Arizona is ranked as an
Innovation Leader - the second highest rating. The state is "a mecca for
companies fleeing high costs," the
Arizona also ranks fifth in the nation
for the amount of STEM degrees it
grants students, resulting in a talented
local workforce. According to the scorecard, Arizona produces 30.7 students
graduating with STEM degrees per
1,000 undergraduates - roughly 10 more
students than the national average.
Nearby universities like Arizona State
University and Grand Canyon University
are to thank. For high schoolers, the
Phoenix Coding Academy, an enrollment-based school focused on computer
science, opened in 2016.
Dr. Cody Friesen is the founder and
CEO of Zero Mass Water, a Phoenixbased company. Friesen and his
company created the "Source," a solar
panel-like device that uses sunlight
and air to make drinkable water.
Located in a desert, Phoenix served as
both a "challenge and motivator" for
the entrepreneur and scientist.
He also founded the Avnet Innovation
Lab at ASU, an accelerator program
for tech entrepreneurs, and started the
ASU Innovation Open, a student
entrepreneurial competition where
students can win up to $100,000 for
"ideas that demonstrate social impact
potential, a working prototype and
investability," Friesen says. With strong
educational foundations, recruiting
engineers and entrepreneurs has
become much easier.
Alongside accelerator programs and
competitions, Phoenix also hosts its
own tech conference: Phoenix Startup
Week. The seven-day event is a huge
networking opportunity for the area, as
local companies - startups and established businesses - gather for panels,
workshops and showcases. Both Ducey
and Friesen gave keynotes, along with
top executives from companies like
LaneTerralever, Organizers Direct
"As a community, we're good at
what we do because we're not trying
to copy anyone else," Friesen says.
"Instead, we're digging into our unique
culture and what we're good at, and
Dr. Cody Friesen,
founder and CEO
of Zero Mass Water.
Cityscape: Andrew Zarivny/Alamy
hanks to a supportive local government and a rising
community of successful startups, Phoenix, AZ has
become an ideal location for emerging tech companies.
Before its rise, Phoenix was known for being home to a plethora
of call centers. But Mayor Doug Ducey, who took office in 2015,
helped entice successful companies by steering the city clear of
any weighty regulations in the way of disruptive tech.
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N