Looking back on year filled with new innovation, new investment and new incubation

By: Steve Wednesday December 31, 2014


Editorially Speaking Steve Porter - header

Twenty 14 was a year packed with innovation, investment and new startup incubation in Colorado.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and Colorado's Jan. 1, 2014 legalization of recreational marijuana presented opportunities for research and potential commercialization.

Colorado State University was awarded $2 million in October to develop an Ebola vaccine, and Corgenix received $818,000 in December to develop an Ebola field test kit.

Lifeloc Technologies, a company specializing in alcohol impairment test equipment, reported in November that it is working to develop the nation's first marijuana impairment field test.

And in July, the first U.S. patent office opened in Denver to serve innovators in the Rocky Mountain region.

Several startup and business-related kudos were bestowed on Colorado and Denver during the year, including Colorado being ranked No. 8 on the Bloomberg list of most innovative states in January.

In March, Denver was ranked No. 2 by Forbes on its list of best cities to launch a startup, and Colorado was ranked No. 4 in November by the Milken Institute for converting its science and technology capability into economic vitality.

Aerospace news was a mixed bag in 2014. In September, Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser lost its bid with NASA to be the next low-Earth spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

The good news was MAVEN, an orbiting satellite project led by the University of Colorado-Boulder, arrived in Mars orbit in October and began sending data about how the Red Planet may have lost its atmosphere.

The year 2014 also was the Year of the Startup Week, as Fort Collins and Colorado Springs held their first Startup Week celebrations and Denver and Boulder held their third and fifth, respectively.

Other major events of the year included the first CSU Blue Ocean Venture Challenge in May, with Loveland-based Decibullz winning the state's richest pitch prize of $250,000.

Colorado held its third COIN Summit in August aimed at celebrating and attracting new innovation to the state.

The year was also rich in accelerator and incubator news.

In April, the CSU Powerhouse Energy Campus opened in Fort Collins on the expanded site of the former CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory.

May saw the opening of Boulder's Boomtown Accelerator, with the accelerator's inaugural Demo Day held in June to spotlight the first class of new companies.

In September, PrIME Health Collaborative announced its new Stride Digital Health Campus near INDUSTRY, another new addition to the accelerator scene in 2014.

In October, the UNC BizHub Accelerator reopened in Greeley after a re-tooling and expansion of its mission and new collaboration with East Colorado SBDC.

Later that month, Wells Fargo announced its partnership with NREL to open a new cleantech incubator.

In November, organizers announced the formation of MergeLane, Colorado's first business accelerator for women-owned companies, in Boulder.

And in December - in response to Colorado's marijuana legalization - CanopyBoulder, the nation's first cannabis industry business accelerator, opened in Boulder.

Galvanize, a startup ecosystem in Denver, in May announced it would open a Fort Collins campus in 2015 and in July opened a campus in Boulder.

The year was also big on major funding infusions and acquisitions.

IPOs were seen for:

  • Mercury Payment Systems, $100M

  • Zayo, $288M


Companies receiving major investments ($10M or more) in 2014 included:

  • Biodesix, $20M

  • Ascent Solar, $45M

  • Welltok, $47.1M

  • Ampio stock sale, $63.3M

  • Cool Planet, $100M

  • Venaxis, $18.4M

  • Van Dyne SuperTurbo, $15M

  • Orbotix, $15.5M

  • DataLogix, $45M

  • Wayin, $13.1M

  • UrgentRX, $17.5M

  • LogRhythm, $40M

  • Ibotta, $20M

  • SolidFire, $82M

  • Ping Identity, $35M

  • Door-to-Door Organics, $25.5M

  • Peak, $16M

  • Craftsy, $50M

  • N30 Pharma, $30M

  • SendGrid, $20M


Acquisitions during the year included:

  • Level 3 acquired tw telecom for reported $600M

  • Gnip is acquired by Twitter for $131.4M

  • ViaWest is acquired by Shaw Communications for $1.2B

  • TriZetto is acquired by Cognizant for $2.7B

  • Revolv is acquired by Google's Nest Labs for an undisclosed price


And 2014 was also a year of some big accomplishments for InnovatioNews.

In January, InnovatioNews and partners launched 1 Million Cups NoCo, a weekly business pitch event in Fort Collins.

In April, InnovatioNews won five awards from the Colorado Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, including a first-place award for General Website Excellence.

And in December, InnovatioNews launched a new and reader-popular "Talent" section, highlighting the people who are moving up in the world of Colorado innovation.

As we continue in our third year of operation, InnovatioNews pledges to bring our readers the latest news about innovation across the state, along with new startup profiles and compelling investigative stories about the topics you want to know more about.

We thank our readers for their loyalty to our unique publication and our sponsors for their generous support, and look forward to a new year of covering the explosive innovation scene in our beautiful state.

About the Author: Steve