Entrepreneurial activity

Updated 12/14/18

Venture funding and other sources of capital and new patents, point to a supporting environment to foster start-ups and enhance economic diversity across the region, but limited data are available to measure entrepreneurship.

The Office of Enterprise and Innovation (previously the Technology Transfer Office), a partnership between UNR and DRI works to facilitate economic development through the commercialization and protection of university technologies.  In turn, these technological innovations have the potential to benefit our local economic development. [*Note that responsibility for DRI’s IP portfolio was transferred to UNLV in 2018]


  • 33 of the 2015 patents were issued in various European countries from one European application filed in 2008
  • 2016 included 1 foreign
  • 2017 and 2018 each included 2 foreign


  • *Three types of patents: 1) utility-granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; 2) design-granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and 3) plant-granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
  • **Utility patents originating from Washoe County by year of patent grant, starting 2006

The Brookings Institution released, “Patenting Prosperity: Invention and Economic Performance in the United States and its Metropolitan Areas” analyzing patenting trends on a metro/regional level from 1980 to 2012. The Reno-Sparks MSA had 5.86 patents per 10,000 people in 2001 which ranked 116th among the 318 reporting MSAs. International Gaming Technology was the leading patent organization locally, with 32 patents from 1997 to 2001; UNR reported five patents for the same time period. From 2002 to 2004, UNR realized 11 patents issued. Since 2005, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of disclosures and applications. Link for US patents issued to Nevada residents.  Washoe County had a rate of 32.69 patents per 100,000 population in 2001, which increased to 84.59 by 2013.

The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity is an indicator of new business creation, measuring each month using the Current Population Survey (CPS).  The Kauffman Foundation’s November 2013, Most Entrepreneurial Metropolitan Area report, ranked the Reno MSA 3rd for highest startup density for MSA’s 250,000–500,000 population in 2011;  The Reno MSA dropped to 6th in the 2013 metro report, but was above average for all MSA’s of the same class size 8 times, and continues to show high activity similar or better than Florida MSA’s. In 2015, the Kauffman Index was revamped and state activity separated by smaller vs. larger states, and metro area activity compared for only the 40 largest MSA’s.


US Patent & Trademark Office;

Technology Transfer Office, University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute, asferrazzo@unr.edu;

Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity;

“Identifying the Economic Drivers and import substitution opportunities for the Western Nevada Study Area with Applications to the City of Sparks,” UNR Department of Agriculture, September 2005

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