Can Las Vegas Become 'The Silicon Valley of Water'?



Could Las Vegas become the "Silicon Valley of water"?

Las Vegas is known for its casinos, but one group is hoping the city will become famous for another glistening industry: water technology.

Established by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, WaterStart is an incubator that identifies water innovation needs, finds products that solve the problem and supports their development.

The goal? To transform Las Vegas into “the Silicon Valley of Water.

Nathan Allen is the executive director of WaterStart. He told KNPR's State of Nevada the effort is part of the bigger picture for the state's economy.

“The initial idea really came out of the last recession and trying to figure out what strengths does the state have that we can try and leverage in order to diversify our economy a bit,” he said.

The group is made up of several partners from the Southern Nevada Water Authority, Desert Research Institute to the Truckee Meadow Water Authority and MGM Resorts International.

Allen said some of those organizations have the best water experts in the world, which is what WaterStart is hoping to tap into.

“This really felt like this was an area where there was a lot of leadership and expertise that we could try to capitalize on in building an innovation culture here,” he said.

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WaterStart looks for companies or inventors who might have a good idea or even a product but are looking for guidance to bring it to market.

“We see how we can create an opportunity for them to get a foot in the door in the U.S. market, do a first installation here, partner with an early adopter then really help them approach the U.S. market,” he said.

Allen said they had already helped a company install real-time leak detectors on water pipes on the Strip. The nodes detect leaks, letting water officials know if a leak is something that needs to be addressed or a small leak that can be left alone.

While most people don't associate Nevada with high tech or water. Allen said it is a natural fit.

“Here is Nevada we’re in a special situation where the conditions of our climate, the growth of our state, demand that we’re innovative with how we manage our water,” he said.



Nathan Allen, executive director, WaterStart

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