The issue: 

Northern Colorado has a head start for innovation and high-tech business growth.

What we think: 

Incubators and startup groups should work together to attract venture capital and angel investments.

Tell us what you think: 

Send us an email at editorial@csbj.com.


Our neighbors to the north ended 2016 with a decision to combine their robust business and technology incubators — creating a startup powerhouse in Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder, and pledging to work together to gain venture capital and angel investment for fledgling businesses in all three cities.

Innosphere, headquartered in Fort Collins with an office in Denver, merged with Boulder’s Innovation Center of the Rockies. ICR will become part of Innosphere’s nonprofit designation.

The goal is to build a statewide incubator with national recognition — thanks to the group’s relationships with the cities of Boulder, Fort Collins, Denver and Loveland, as well as some of the state’s powerhouse research institutions: the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University and Colorado School of Mines.

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Since 2009, Innosphere alone raised $220 million in capital, $63 million in revenue and created 1,400 jobs. It’s graduated 52 companies. Founded in 2005, the Innovation Center of the Rockies has created 623 new jobs, $107.2 million in salaries, $105.8 million in new capital and 19 new companies.

Those are impressive statistics. Colorado Springs startup groups and incubators should pay attention to how they’re doing it.

We’ve gotten off to a good start, thanks to building a relationship with the Rockies Venture Club in Denver (working with the Springs’ High Altitude Investors). But we need a larger statewide presence, in addition to combining efforts at UCCS, Colorado College and the U.S. Air Force Academy. We have major research institutions here — working together, we can create a regional incubator that attracts venture capital, angel investors and entrepreneurs who want to work and grow their companies in Southern Colorado.

We’ve had successes, but there’s no denying that Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins are ahead of us — they’ve been laying the groundwork for years.

Locally, there’s been some work in that area already: The Quad now has space below Loyal Coffee and features the work of students from Pikes Peak Community College, USAFA, UCCS and CC. And the Rocky Mountain Innovation Partners incubator has been the Academy’s tech-transfer arm for two years. But we have a long way to go before we reach the northern Colorado milestones.

Think about the potential of the National Cybersecurity Center and Catalyst Campus, combined with the youth and energy of Peak Startup, the Innovation Institute at Colorado College, technology and research at the Air Force Academy and The Garage at UCCS.

It’s time to erase the silos.

Bring the Quad, the Garage, the Innovation Institute, Catalyst Campus, 1 Million Cups, Thrive, Pikes Peak Community College’s entrepreneurship efforts and the high-tech labs at the Air Force Academy together — and see what we can create.

Our bet is that such an alliance could come up with high-tech innovation that parallels that in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins — and possibly collaborate with them for statewide impact.

It just takes imagination, teamwork and the desire to work closely together.

Success won’t come from jealously guarding turf. It comes from collaboration and mutual support.

In 2017, let’s make it our goal: Southern Colorado will become a hub of innovation, new business and high-tech startups.