Report: Colorado doing well in developing economy but must spend more to improve

By: Steve Monday September 15, 2014 0 comments Tags: BioWest 2014, Denver, Robert D. Atkinson


By Steve Porter


DENVER - Colorado is doing fairly well when it comes to its diverse and innovation-focused economy, but the state has some work to do to move to the uppermost tier of state economies, according to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Robert D. Atkinson, ITIF founder and president of the technology policy think tank, offered some of the report's highlight's during BioWest 2014, a biannual conference spotlighting Colorado's life science industry held last week and hosted by Colorado BioScience Association.

Atkinson said the nation's life science industry is "still doing well, but we can't afford to lose our advantage.

"Our lead has been slipping over the last 10 years," he said. "We've lost our competitive share in an industry we were dominant in 10 to 12 years ago."

Notably, Atkinson said the U.S. has been losing market share to China and other nations that are less stringent about regulation and more willing to streamline new drug and medical device approval processes.

Atkinson said the U.S. needs to lower taxes on patent product income, give more R&D tax credits, put more money into life science funding and streamline its approval process as many other nations have done.

"We can't afford to sit back on our laurels and expect not to be challenged," he said.

ITIF's report has both good and troubling news for Colorado:

  • The state is in sixth place overall when it comes to having a dynamic economy and a highly skilled workforce.

  • The state ranks No. 2 in workforce education, No. 3 in high-tech jobs including biotech, and No. 5 in scientists and engineers

  • The state led the nation in IPOs in 2013, with six IPOs worth $3.4 billion.

  • Colorado's R&D scores are relatively low, coming in No. 19 in industry investment.

  • The state ranks No. 34 in moving toward a clean energy economy.


Atkinson said despite the lower rankings in some categories, the ITIF report shows Colorado is still in an enviable position.

"These are real strengths that many states would give their right arm for," he said.

Atkinson said the most important thing Colorado can do to grow a stronger economy is to put more investment in innovation.

"If Colorado wants to be in this game, it's going to have to invest," he said. "It means very simply that Colorado has to step up to the plate and spend more money."

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