Off to a good start: Legislature puts initial focus on tech funding

By: Steve Friday January 11, 2013 0 comments Tags: Editorially Speaking, Steve Porter

While there's a lot on the Colorado's Legislature's plate this session including gun control and marijuana regulations, the first bill to be filed was one that looks toward an investment in the state's technology sector.

House Bill 13-1001, known as the "Advanced Industries Accelerator Act," aims to raise $15 million a year to help the state's bioscience and cleantech startups get at least a portion of the funding they need to launch their products and services into the marketplace and create new jobs.

The bill, introduced Jan. 9 on the first day of the 2013 session, is sponsored by Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley; Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen; Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder; and Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver.

So there's a hint of bipartisan support for the bill, upping its chances of passage.

According to the language of the bill, its aim is to "drive growth in high-paying, high-skill jobs; align educational institutions to create the workforce for advanced industry needs; increase exports and competitiveness in global markets; accelerate the commercialization of technologies; and promote research and development capabilities across research universities, community colleges and federal laboratories."

The bill would provide:

  • Proof-of-concept grants of up to $150,000 to fund research at Colorado institutions, which would be required to provide a $1 match for every $3 provided by the state

  • Early-stage, capital-and-retention grants of up to $250,000 to companies with half or more of their employees based in Colorado

  • Infrastructure funding grants of up to $500,000 to research-and-development, production and commercialization facilities

The program would be managed through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper immediately endorsed the bill.

"It will help make the state more competitive in world markets," he said at a news conference just before the 2013 session convened.

Money for the fund would come primarily from a program passed in 2011 that diverts 50 percent of the taxes paid by firms in bioscience and clean energy into an investment fund.

Other funds would be raised by gifts, grants, donations "and any moneys that the general assembly appropriates to the fund."

If the bill is adopted, it would go into effect in 2014 and continue through 2024.

We hope the Legislature can move quickly on this bill and pass it so the state's tech startups can soon have access to another potential source of funding to help get them on their feet and add good jobs and tax revenue to Colorado's future economic well-being.


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