Venture capitalist: Northern Colorado Bioscience Cluster needs more critical mass

By: Steve Friday July 13, 2012 Tags: Level 5 Partners, Mike Handley

By Steve Porter

Mike Handley pic
FORT COLLINS - Mike Handley, executive director and senior managing partner of Level 5 Partners, is taking on the mission of establishing a viable bioscience cluster in Northern Colorado.

Handley co-founded Fort Collins-based Level 5 Partners - a life sciences and medical technologies venture fund and management group - with Eric Goslau and Ted Tarasow in 2010.

At a meeting of Rocky Mountain Innosphere's Inovation After Hours on July 12, Handley said the region needs to create a "critical biomass" that could result in a vibrant biosciences cluster forming in Northern Colorado.

"There's a lot of really good bioscience companies here, but we don't have enough of them and we need more," he told a group of about 50 people attending the event.

Handley said creating a bioscience cluster of companies and organizations dedicated to promoting bioscience research into the marketplace is an RMI initiative and supported by the City of Fort Collins.

"Our mission is to catalyze development of new bioscience companies and to assist in the retention and growth of existing bioscience companies," he said.

Handley said he has the background to help form a strong regional biosciences cluster, having created more than 20 startup companies and raised more than $60 million in venture capital.

Handley said one of his goals is to establish a regional bioscience early-stage fund to help bioscience entrepreneurs get their ideas moving. Another goal is to organize a NoCoBio steering committee.

Also needed, Handley said, are stronger ties between local life sciences companies, the Colorado Bioscience Association, Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp., CSU, CSU Ventures, Poudre Valley Hospital System and the cities of Loveland, Fort Collins, Greeley and Longmont.

"I think we need to tighten (those bonds) and get everybody on the same page," he said.

Handley said he expects the cluster to initially "focus on medical technologies with market-disrupting later-stage technologies."

Handley said the next step in creating a strong Northern Colorado biosciences cluster is to convene a meeting of the NoCoBio steering committee later this month.

Those interested in serving on the committee can call Handley at 925-400-3123.

About the Author: Steve