Laying the Seeds for Growth
Riverside County's tech industry is expected to grow rapidly, adding 100,000 jobs by 2030, with a wealth of talent available from its 17 colleges and universities. The county's testing facilities are highly rated and available at a fraction of the cost of comparable sites in LA, while stakeholders are creating internal funding sources to support companies. Education and community support are seen as integral to success, with community-led initiatives a key driver.
Riverside County’s tech industry is expected to grow tremendously over the next decade. According to EMSI, these technology companies will add 100,000 jobs in Riverside County by 2030, a growth rate of 16% from 2020—and there is plenty of talent to fill them. Residents in Riverside County have access to 17 colleges and universities that provide a deep well of talent for start-ups. Reinier van der Lee, the CEO of Vinduino, for example, has received hundreds of applications in response to job postings, illustrating, as he puts it, that access to high-level talent is “not a problem.” This talent pool is critical to fueling the sector’s growth over the next decade.
Remote work is only amplifying access to talent. “With the trend for workers to be able to work remotely, programmers, system developers and web developers can easily operate from Riverside County,” says Schlanger.
Infrastructure is also important to the region’s tech-growth story. Riverside County already has a foundation of quality lab and testing facilities. In the clean tech sector, Kleckner says the county’s test beds are second to none and are used to support both start-ups and established companies. These facilities often come at a considerable discount to the coastal markets as well. Office space in Los Angeles currently costs $3.86 per square foot. Riverside County rents are a fraction of that cost at $1.92 per square foot.
The county’s tech stakeholders are pushing for more. Murrieta’s Innovation Center is expanding to include a wet lab, and Goth is in active discussions with developers to build out facilities to accommodate companies as they graduate from the start-up phase. “When you have a nice facility, that attracts a lot more people,” says Goth, adding that he has gotten a lot of interest from developers. “My vision is to grow the Murrieta area into a built-out R&D hub, similar to what they have done in San Diego that will focus on particular aspects of life science,” says Goth.
Industry stakeholders are also building internal capital sources to fund promising projects. Funding can often be the biggest challenge for these companies, and at present, 98% of funding is coming from outside of the market. Kleckner and colleague Martin Kleckner launched Riverside Angels Summit Investors to pool capital from high-net worth individuals from within the county. “At a certain point, you want your region to see the benefits of these start-ups and not see all of the money go outside of the area,” says Kleckner “We have good deal flow here.” He is currently working to secure more than $23 million in funding for 11 different companies in Riverside County. In Murrieta, the Innovation Center is also focusing on education, with seminars on topics like R&D tax credits and how to pitch an investor.
The last element of this landscape is community and government support, and it is just as integral as the others. Many CEOs praise the strong support from both the county and local cities, and the sense of community in the region. In many instances, governments also provided office or lab space at a reduced cost to support the technology sector. “This is an investment on the part of the city. It is critical,” says Goth. “I think that is what is really going to drive this—that sense of community and interactivity.”
In the next decade, the Riverside County region will be a significant new technology market with mature, growing and early-stage start-ups, but that foundation is being laid today. It’s a shared goal everyone in the County is working toward. As Goth says, “By working together as a community, we can put this place on the map.”