a lot can happen in five years!

Colorado Innovation Network December 1, 2016


Time flies fast, and a lot can happen in five years! The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) is celebrating our five-year anniversary, and we recognize that a good understanding of the past is one of the most powerful tools we have for planning for the future. With this in mind, we pause to glance backward at a few of the truly breakthrough technologies that have occurred in the past five years and how they connect to Colorado.

At the core of innovation is people – the ideators, risk takers, and leaders that make the impossible possible. We couldn’t be more proud to represent such a diverse, thriving, and dynamic innovation ecosystem during an exciting time for Colorado. Thank you for your contributions to our great state and for your ongoing support of our network. 

looking back

what we have in common (2016)

Nearly half a million people are co-working in the U.S., and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. In November, Paste Magazine scoured the country in search of the coolest co-working spaces in the United States, and Denver’s own Green Spaces captured a spot in the top ten. One common goal that appeared across all spaces was the vision to not merely coexist, but to connect, collaborate, and create alongside other entrepreneurs who may not have come together in any other way.

At a year and a half old, The Commons on Champa is a collaborative space founded by the Colorado Technology Association, the Downtown Denver Partnership, and the City and County of Denver to be a public campus for the startup community. Over the course of its existence, The Commons has welcomed over 12,000 entrepreneurs providing them tools and resources vital to growth for early-stage companies.

cars that evaluate, anticipate, and communicate (2015)

The National Highway Transportation Administration reported that 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015, marking the largest increase in over half a century. That same year, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) technology was named one of the biggest breakthrough technologies of the year by MIT Technology Review. V2V technology allows cars to broadcast their position, speed, brake status, and other data to cars within a couple of miles distance, leading to quicker response times in troubling situations. General Motors was the first car manufacturer to include this technology in its production, but it is expected to become a standard safety feature in all automobiles in the coming years.

Addressing public safety on Colorado roads is a high priority for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). With a goal to move towards zero traffic deaths, CDOT has an open innovation challenge underway, the Imagine Colorado RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge, which is seeking emerging technology solutions to protect cyclists and those on foot in Colorado and is providing $500,000 in prizes for the top ideas.

innovation at the speed of wind (2014)

In 2014, smart wind and power emerged and has made possible the integration of renewable energy into the grid. The National Wind Technology Center sits on 305 windy acres at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, and is operated by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). With a wide array of diverse and vigorous wind patterns topping 100 mph, the center is the first facility in the United States with a controllable grid interface test system allowing manufacturers to conduct tests in a controlled lab environment. According to NREL Wind and Water Power Program Manager Brian Smith, “A turbine that produced a megawatt of power five years ago now produces three megawatts of energy resulting in more output and reduced costs. Additionally, wind energy is much more grid-friendly, enabling greater access to the energy produced.”

improved manufacturing (2013)

The process of joining materials layer upon layer in order to create objects from 3D modeling is called additive manufacturing. While much has been written and reported on 3D printing, additive manufacturing is considered the industrial version of this printing. General Electric’s aviation division was an early adopter of this new technology when it began the production of fuel nozzles for jet engines by printing the parts with lasers as opposed to the traditional method of casting molds and welding metal together.

Taking a leadership role in additive manufacturing here in Colorado is a first of its kind consortium called the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies (ADAPT). Established through a grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Advanced Industries grant program, the center is world-class in the additive materials manufacturing industry. Strategically located on the campus of the Colorado School of Mines, ADAPT allows Mines students and post-docs to carry out much of the research and development.

like it or not (2012)

Facebook’s timeline interface is considered to be a breakthrough technology from 2012. Prior to this update, much of the data collected by Facebook was unstructured status updates and posts. Through the addition of the “Like” button in 2011, users were able to identify their likes and dislikes, allowing Facebook to mine that data and providing a treasure trove of information to marketers for targeted advertising.

Recently Colorado was included as a stop for Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Road Tour. Premised on the fact that innovation and emerging technologies are not exclusive to Silicon Valley, the tour allowed the spotlight to shine on founders and startups nationwide. During the stop at a finale event, startups were offered the opportunity to pitch in front of a live audience and to a panel of investors including Steve Case, co-founder of America Online (AOL), and Brad Feld, Managing Director of the Foundry Group. All who pitched represented Colorado’s entrepreneur scene well, but the company that received a $100,000 investment was FlyteDesk, an advertising platform built exclusively to reach the millennial market on college campuses. Through use of the platform, advertisers are connected to highly-targeted data which enables brands to connect with their audiences at the moment of the consumer decision.

macro solutions from the micro-kernel (2011)

Solutions to really big problems sometimes come from thorough examination of tiny pieces of information. Such is the case when looking at one of the breakthrough technologies of 2011. A researcher at the National Information Communications Technology Australia (NICTA) identified software vulnerabilities within the most important part of the operating system, the kernel. The kernel manages the flow of communication between hardware and software. Identifying this common vulnerability within systems led to the creation of a mathematical analysis to create crash-proof code, significantly reducing common cyber threats.

Keeping one step ahead of cyber threats is of international importance to governments around the world. As recently mentioned at the 2016 Reverb Conference, countries as small as Uganda have a budget line item for cybersecurity. Inspired by the vision and leadership of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) was founded in 2016 in Colorado Springs to provide collaborative knowledge on cybersecurity to the nation. The NCC will focus on training and talent development as well as collaboration with the private sector, military, and federal agencies in order to protect our cities, our states, and our national security.