In the past decade, the technology scene -- especially start-ups -- went from virtually nonexistent to flourishing in Arizona. More than 7,600 high-tech companies call the state home, and, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority, for every 1,000 jobs in the private sector, 54 work in a high-tech field. In turn, the information technology industry has become a key driver of economic growth and has led to the creation of 64,000 jobs in the past year. Arizona has invested heavily in attracting start-ups and investors to the state and, today, there are more than 60 tech accelerators and incubators in the state. Statewide programs like the Arizona Innovation Accelerator Fund and the Arizona Innovation Challenge are leading the charge. Between 2011 and 2013, PriceWatershouseCoopers noted that approximately $500 million in venture capital was brought into the state.
Arizona is routinely mentioned as an innovative tech hub, one that could rival Silicon Valley or New York in the future. Phoenix, in particular, is quickly adopting a tech-first business climate and establishing itself as a "junior" Silicon Valley, a city rich in technology investments and entrepreneurial spirit. Between 2012 and 2014, venture capital investments in Phoenix reached $834 million, an increase of 166 percent from 2009 to 2011. With a diverse cluster of investments and business sectors, the state has become home to leading tech companies, from Apple to GoDaddy, Intel to Blackboard. Students considering majoring in computer science may find that Arizona offers a wealth of opportunity, both academically and professionally.
Computer Science Education in Arizona
Arizona is committed to advancing the research and development capabilities of its high-tech industry, of which education is paramount. The latest figures from Arizona Commerce Authority show the state's three public universities produced more than $3.5 billion in research and development activities between 2008 and 2011, with a goal of doubling that number by 2016. The success of the technology industry remains dependent on developing an educated workforce. Arizona is home to several highly ranked computer science programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Prospective students can choose from 45 public and private institutions to complete their tech-related education in computer and information science-related fields.
IT Careers and Tech Industry Outlook in Arizona
To accomplish its goal of developing a robust and diverse technology sector, the state has taken a multi-step, multi-pronged approach, including introducing favorable tax exemptions and credits to attract technology businesses to Arizona. These efforts are paying dividends as major companies have announced major projects and company operations in the state, including the following:
- Apple (Mesa) - $2 billion global command center
- GM (Chandler) - 1,000 employee IT Innovation Center
- GoDaddy (Tempe) - Global Technology Center
- Intel (Chandler) - $300 million research and development facility
- Garmin (Chandler) - 60,000 square foot operations facility
Business Insider, Venture capitalists are flocking to Phoenix to invest in the growing ed tech sector, http://www.businessinsider.com/sc/ed-tech-investing-in-phoenix-2015-5
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CompTIA, 2015 Cyberstates, https://www.comptia.org/resources/2015-cyberstates
GeekWire, Silicon Desert: How Phoenix is quickly -- and quietly -- becoming a hub for innovation
Projections Central, Arizona, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Forbes, Tech Companies Are Thriving in Arizona, http://www.forbes.com/sites/arizonacommerce/2015/02/10/tech-companies-are-thriving-in-arizona-the-lowdown-on-arizonas-high-tech-expansion/
Inc., 2014 5000, http://www.inc.com/inc5000/list/2014/state/az/
Inc., Inc. 5000, http://www.inc.com/inc5000/2014/facts-and-figures.html
National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter
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University of Arizona, Rankings, http://www.arizona.edu/about/highlights-rankings
University of Arizona, Department of Computer Science, http://www.cs.arizona.edu/
US News and World Review, Best Computer Science Graduate Programs, http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-science-schools/computer-science-rankings