With its move from Academy and Fountain boulevards to the Catalyst Campus downtown, the Colorado Springs Technology Incubator changed its mission — then closed shop.
At the same time, the CSTI board launched Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners (RMIP), which has a “more robust mission” to focus on technology transfer partnerships and cyber science, according to President and CEO Ric Denton.
The RMIP’s mission is to support and educate clients in entrepreneurship, to create new businesses, accelerate company growth, provide commercialization opportunities, transfer innovative technologies and expand opportunities for early stage investments. Other priorities include supporting technology transfer partnerships with Colorado universities and federal laboratories across the Rocky Mountain region.
A cyber initiative just starting in Colorado Springs involves “software that addresses functions like prevention from being hacked,” Denton said. “What happens when someone hacked into your system and you don’t even know it?” Cyber analytics is the hot new computer module in the industry.
Already, dozens of cyber start-ups have flourished in Colorado, and Denton sees “opportunity” in Colorado Springs.
In the technology transfer realm, RMIP will work on two initiatives, cyber and unmanned aerial systems.
“It’s really a nice, comfortable cluster of offices.”
– Ric Denton
[/pullquote]Every year, the Air Force Academy attracts $60 million in sponsored research infused into the academics there, which “dwarfs anything in Colorado Springs,” in terms of sponsored research dollars, Denton said. Of the estimated 700 people conducting research at the Academy, some 300 are in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) realm and another 300 or so are focused on software science, he said.
“If you get them aligned in terms of research direction, you have a very powerful research engine,” Denton said. “If we can tap into that, it would be a very good thing.”
One key factor in economic growth involves having a strong research university as well as a strong research park around it, he said. That would be the Catalyst Campus, a new downtown hub where industry and government work together, located where Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues meet, Denton said.
“With the opportunity to move into the innovation district and with our expanded mission to do technology transfer, what we’re discovering is an absolute increased opportunity in the cyber area,” Denton said.
The new space
The new office space at the Catalyst Campus also houses the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE. SCORE is a free mentorship program offered to budding businesses.
A renovation at the building at 559 E. Pikes Peak Ave. created co-working spaces. The O’Neil Group also made a suite for their office meetings, and a classroom that will easily seat 20 people.
“It’s really a nice, comfortable cluster of offices,” Denton said.
“Launch of this new organization is an exciting development,” said RMIP founding board member Bill Miller. “And I am happy to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Colorado Springs. I also hope to see some interesting investment opportunities emerge as local companies begin to better leverage the research and facilities available at our world class universities and labs.”
Leaving the southeast
The location on Fountain Boulevard was less than ideal, Denton said.
“It was an outpost, not downtown and inconvenient to get to,” he said. “People didn’t want to go the extra couple of miles.”
In addition, when Denton started at the incubator, his board advised rebranding the organization. However, “rebranding and doing the same old thing doesn’t make any sense.”
“With this new charter, an expert team and in its new location, Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners is proud and excited to be an integral part of the expanding business growth and economic development momentum of the region,” said Mary Fox, RMIP operations director.
“We are delighted that the Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners will provide many important services to enhance entrepreneurial business growth,” said Kevin O’Neil, CEO of The O’Neil Group, which founded the Catalyst Campus. “We expect great synergies and community growth in having their team at our new campus for innovation.”
RMIP’s goal is to build a tech transfer and commercialization network, beginning by addressing key opportunities with potential for near-term impact to the area economy, and with the longer-term goal to create statewide impacts, Fox said.
The founding board members of the RMIP are: Denton, Silicon Valley veteran and a director of High Altitude Investors; Dr. Walter Copan, managing director of Tekcapital plc, and president of EnergyInsight LLC and Copan Associates LLC; and Miller, managing partner at PV Ventures and PV Strategies and executive chairman at X-IO Technologies.