Wednesday February 26, 2014 0 comments
By Steve Porter
LOVELAND - Businesses looking for a funding boost can tap into a number of possibilities that can be explored, according to a slate of speakers who took part in "Access to Funding for Colorado Companies," a free workshop held Tuesday in Loveland.
Four speakers who work with startups and established companies to find grants, investors and state funding programs offered tips to about 40 people who attended the event at the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology.
Doug Johnson, VP for access to capital at Rocky Mountain Innosphere in Fort Collins, said his efforts to help clients at the startup incubator find financing have revealed a number of possibilities for companies ready for investment.
"I'm not a miracle worker, but I can uncover a lot of stones to help you get the best opportunities to get funding," Johnson said. "Our whole mission is to give the entrepreneur the unfair advantage to get to profitability as soon as possible."
Johnson said Innosphere specializes in helping its incubator clients - primarily in the cleantech, bioscience and software spaces - obtain the funding they need to launch their companies through angel investment, bank partners, and the Colorado Enterprise Fund.
Lew Hagler, Colorado Enterprise Fund director of lending, said the 37-year-old institution is a "very flexible" funding source for companies that may not yet qualify for a bank loan.
"We take businesses somewhere between Proof-of-Concept and bankability and we make loans to those businesses," he said. "We provide gap funding for those companies that are not quite bankable.
"We're about 10 times more risk-tolerant than the average bank."
Mark Lake, owner of EagleRock Consulting that specializes in federal government grants, said federal R&D grants can help early-stage small businesses get rolling without giving up equity.
"Government investment can allow them to move forward without diluting that ownership share and help with their product development," he said.
"You want to use that federal government funding as a springboard."
Lake said the federal government, through agencies such as the Department of Defense and others, can be a rich source of funding if tactfully approached with a solid proposal.
"The government spends a lot of money on research done by private companies - billions in Colorado alone," he said.
Noah Aptekar, business development specialist with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), said the state Legislature last year passed the Advanced Industries Accelerator Act, which targets seven of Colorado's primary industries for help with matching funds.
Those seven industries are advanced manufacturing, technology and information, electronics, aerospace, bioscience, energy and infrastructure engineering - which together make up about 30 percent of the state's economy and provide about half a million high-paying jobs.
Aptekar said the AIA aims to help boost those seven industries with funding infusions designed to create even more jobs and economic vitality.
About $12.5 million is available this year, with $5.5 million dedicated to bioscience companies. The next application funding cycle starts April 1, he said.
Aptekar said OEDIT received about $30 million in funding requests in the program's first two rounds from advanced industries and research institutions.
The program is the state's attempt to help its advanced industries thrive with matching funds that can be increased when multiple industries work together.
"It's about growth, sustainability and collaboration across these industries," he said.
The half-day workshop was hosted by OEDIT and the City of Loveland.