Monday February 3, 2014 0 comments
By Michael Price
All eyes are turning upward toward the Mile High City and it isn't because of the Denver Broncos' appearance in Super Bowl XLVIII.
The city, widely recognized as one of our nation's "best places to live" and famous for dream vacations for snow bunnies, has now established itself as an industry hotspot for technology, a serious draw for residents and businesses alike.
In addition to Denver, three other cities--Boulder, Fort Collins-Loveland and Colorado Springs--were included on a 2013 list of the top 10 metro areas in the country with the highest startup density. Silicon Valley starts to feel 'old school' when considered in context with other areas around the country - from Austin to Charlotte to Portland and indeed, to Denver, where economies are blossoming around the promise of innovation.
As consumer demand for 'what's next' shows no sign of slowing, the time is now to make smart policy decisions to encourage investment and to attract talent. If business and policy leaders in Colorado want to hang on to the state's rank as a tech hotspot, they must work together to ensure that Colorado is well positioned to compete and prosper.
Who's on top? Denver has more tech startups per capita than any other metro area in the U.S. In Colorado, 122 startup businesses were launched in 2012. Of those new businesses, 70 secured funding of $1 million or more. Colorado is attracting the investors and highly-skilled workforce that make new innovations possible. In fact, Colorado is hiring tech talent at one of the highest rates in the country--nearly four times the rate of tech hiring in Silicon Valley.
Consumer demand alone didn't propel the local technology sector to these great heights. Colorado has been successful because of the deliberate, cooperative efforts by area tech leaders and policymakers to promote our region.
Specifically, local leaders have focused on the basic foundation of technology and connectivity as the key to economic growth. They have been at the forefront of encouraging private sector investment to expand the high-speed broadband infrastructure needed to deliver innovations and support businesses. Modern broadband connectivity is the essential tool that enables startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses to grow, innovate -- and succeed.
This climate of sustained growth and innovation also presents a welcome challenge to our state: What can we do to ensure that these positive developments continue? According to Mobile Future, global mobile data traffic nearly doubled in the past year. In an environment where consumer dependence on technology is growing, we must continue to ensure we can meet their needs by increasing access to high-speed broadband connections.
And upgrading and expanding this infrastructure is critical as consumers have chosen to move away from their plain old telephone service and have migrated toward high-speed, Internet-based technologies that provide new choices and can deliver the services our modern lives require.
Advanced broadband networks can continue to connect us to new possibilities - from better monitoring and management of our personal health and wellness, to increased civic engagement, to widely expanded educational, professional and social opportunities.
At the national level, the recent announcement from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow for beta testing of the IP transition is an exciting development that will help usher in a new era of innovation. The question is, will Colorado join states across the country and support the switch to modern networks in place of plain-old-telephone-service (POTS)? It's critical that we align our policies with this decision so that consumers, entrepreneurs and businesses know that Colorado is a leader in technology advancement.
But the promise of innovation will be stifled if the policy environment isn't updated to acknowledge new choices and consumers' increasing dependence on all-digital lives.
Have you ever watched the spinning icon showing download speeds on your wireless device or home computer drag on for what feels like hours, even if it's only a few extra seconds, while you're waiting for immediate connectivity to what you want to see? Old regulations can have that effect on technology, too. We need a modern regulatory framework that accurately reflects the ever-changing and dynamically competitive communications landscape.
Too often, current laws, written for technologies 100 years ago, cannot keep pace with the robust broadband market. In his recent state of the state speech, Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper addressed the importance of access to lightning-fast broadband, stating that now is "well past time to reform our telecommunications laws."
He's right, and fortunately, some of our forward-thinking policy leaders are out front revisiting these obsolete policies. They'll have the opportunity to enact smart policies in 2014, and we hope they do and that the rest of our state policymakers join them in the effort.
Colorado's tech environment is thriving and will require constant monitoring and support to make sure this progress continues to benefit us all. With the right polices and infrastructure in place, Colorado can continue to be a place where the best and brightest come to develop and deliver products and services that put us on the map, just as our snow-capped peaks have done for generations.
To live in Colorado today is an exciting time, but I'm even more optimistic about our future if we continue to work together to ensure it is innovative and prosperous.