“You have all the constituents of a techno-economic ecosystem, yet what’s needed is the glue to make it a cohesive whole,” said Chris Fall, who until recently supervised many of the federal labs as former director of the DOE’s Office of Science. “The reality is a university has only so much ability to scale technology, so you really need the private sector and government help to make it happen, to bring forces together to build a framework and work together.”
Business partnerships and startups
Enter business leaders and investors, who have joined Colorado’s technology innovation ecosystem in a big way. AlphabetInc.’s Google, the big data analytics software company Palantir TechnologiesInc., HP Inc., Lockheed Martin and space technology company Maxar Technologies are among high-profile businesses clustered along the Front Range.
There are lots of startups, too, many born by universities.
Last year, startups in the region raised more venture funding than startups in Austin, Texas, according to CB Insights as reported in the Wall Street Journal. Denver-Boulder startups attracted roughly $5.5 billion in venture capital last year, more than twice the 2020 amount and almost four times more than in 2017 – growth rates far faster than the Silicon Valley or recent national average.
CO-Labs, Inc.a Boulder-based nonprofit group, links technologists, economists, scientists and government officials to turn lab discoveries into cutting-edge technologies and companies.
For example, CO-Labs helped scientists at CU Boulder team with researchers at CSU’s Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center to develop and commercialize methane-spotting laser technology. The resulting company, LongPath Technologies, Inc., uses the device to reduce the potent greenhouse gas by up to 90% at oil and gas fields in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and beyond.
Said LongPath CEO Ian Dickinson: “This company is a proof point of the collaboration between government labs, business and academia. We would not be here without that.”
In Fort Collins, researchers at CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center collaborated with VetDC Co. to develop the first FDA-approved cancer treatment for dogs. The drug, called Tanovea, was a result of tests to find treatments for humans; it was designed to target and attack lymphoma cells. The center is a world leader in the treatment of dogs, cats and pets with cancer. VetDC has since been acquired by Elanco Animal Health Co., and the product is now being sold worldwide.
In Loveland, about two dozen innovative technologies have transferred from CSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to Heska Corp. since the early 1990s, helping build the company’s animal healthcare portfolio. Heska manufactures, develops and sells advanced veterinary diagnostics to treat cats and dogs primarily in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The company employs more than 700 workers, many of them in Colorado, and generated $253.7 million in revenue last year.
CSU Ventures, the university’s tech-transfer arm, has launched more than 60 startup companies based on CSU technologies in the last 15 years.