3 Markets Moving the Needle in Colorado Tech
Colorado’s booming high-tech economy is attracting more companies and talent
Since 2010, Colorado has seen unparalleled development in the tech economy. Despite record population growth from July 2014 to July 2015, statewide unemployment is currently at an unprecedented 2.3 percent, compared to 4.4 percent nationwide. Colorado’s emerging tech scene, specifically the aerospace, bioscience and cleantech markets have played major roles in driving this growth. Colorado has been ranked as the top state in private aerospace employment, and has been recognized in the top-three states for its concentration of high-tech employees. The U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index ranks our state as the seventh market in the nation. Because of Colorado’s booming high-tech economy, it is now the second-most highly educated state in the nation, and is attracting more and more companies and college graduates to help solidify the Front Range (and beyond) as a tech hub comparable to the ‘Silicon Valleys’ of the world.
Here’s how these three industries – aerospace, bioscience and cleantech – are shaping our economy and future tech presence:
Colorado is home to the second largest aerospace economy trailing closely behind California, and boasts the largest private aerospace employment concentration in the nation. With offices belonging to industry leaders including Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace and Sierra Nevada — it has allowed smaller, high-growth startups like Roccor, BridgeSat and York Space Systems, among others in the emerging ‘New Space’ sector to leave an imprint on the industry. Opportunities are also plentiful for students and college grads with the help of the University of Colorado’s Aerospace Engineering program, which consistently ranks among the top 10 programs of its kind nationwide, and The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, which ranked first in the nation in 2016.
Bioscience has held sturdy footing in Colorado for decades. Today, there are nearly 725 companies located in our state in sectors including biotechnology, diagnostic, digital health, medical device and pharmaceuticals. Colorado also houses the sixth largest medical device market in the nation with notable companies such as Medtronic and newer firms like JustRight Surgical present. The Colorado investment community has also contributed to the strength of our biotech market in recent years. Since 2016, $363M has been invested in the bioscience market, resulting in 333 awarded grants and 56 new companies in Colorado. We serve as home to nationally recognized institutions at CU Boulder, Colorado State University and Anschutz Medial Campus, which have shaped the basis of biotech innovations practiced by companies like miRagen, SomaLogic and Agilent Technologies – all located in Boulder proper.
Paving the way in cleantech employment, R&D and investment, Colorado is currently in the nation’s top seven cleantech markets and local entrepreneurs are beginning to launch startups to further grow this segment of the economy. With more than $81.1 million in venture capital investments, and a $4.6 billion economic impact — the involvement of startups in the Colorado cleantech market is more important than ever. Colorado remains one of the top 10 states in the nation for both registered hybrid and all-electric vehicles, showcasing the state’s commitment to renewable energy and protecting the environment. Recent news on energy storage developments has many automakers in addition to companies like Dyson, who want in on the EV revolution, in a race to develop the most efficient battery. One of the key drivers in the state’s cleantech industry is the solid-state battery, which is predicted to revolutionize the automotive industry in the next 10 years. Colorado is home to two prominent solid-state battery companies: Solid Power, founded as a spin-out from CU Boulder, and Prieto Battery, a spin-out from CSU. These are just a few examples of organizations that are solidifying Colorado’s cleantech market.
Continuing the growth Colorado has seen in recent years will ultimately depend on future success of the companies, institutions and organizations emerging within our borders. There’s no question Colorado is quickly climbing the ranks as one of the nation’s top tech hubs, and if our local aerospace, biotech, and cleantech markets can continue their track records, we’ll see Colorado continue to climb toward the top of the widespread technology market.