Regional Report: Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado boasts some of the state’s fastest growing communities, and area businesses have been key participants in that surge.
The business triangle of Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland has benefited from construction and staff expansions at large companies such as Avago Technologies and Leprino Foods, while innovative startups have taken advantage of incubators, entrepreneurial competitions and other support from economic-development groups.
“Economic conditions right now are ripe in such a way that our pent up intellectual property and innovation can now happen,” said Betsy Hale, city of Loveland economic development director.
Here’s a snapshot of some enterprises that have helped fuel economic growth along the Northern Colorado corridor:
With help from nearby universities, Greeley-based DVM Systems developed a temperature-tracking bolus – or a large plastic pill – that ranchers can administer orally to track the health of a dairy cow.
The TempTrack bolus incorporates a wireless RFID, or radio frequency identification microchip, encased in a 3-by-1 inch capsule that remains in the cow’s stomach.
Five entrepreneurs, including a medical doctor from a ranching family, founded DVM in 2009. They spent more than three years perfecting the pill and accompanying software. Research came from five universities including Colorado State University and University of Northern Colorado.
TempTrack now is in use at more than 30 dairy farms across the world from Australia to Taiwan to help owners detect animal illnesses earlier and better estimate calving times.
After a temperature pattern is established for an individual cow, ranchers can monitor that cow’s ID number for temperature swings. Signals are transmitted when the animals are within 300 feet of a weatherproof, electric- or solar-powered receiver. The system sends the user a text or email when a cow runs a fever or is due to give birth.
DVM Systems CEO Kevin Wild says a product update in 2015 should allow ranchers to see the best times for dairy cattle breeding. Future growth areas include the beef cattle and water buffalo industries. dvmsystems.com
Technology allows renewables to function on the grid
Established in 2002 in Fort Collins by mechanical engineer Sunil Cherian, Spirae develops technology that enables the energy grid to accommodate more renewable and distributed energy sources.
With 30 employees housed in offices repurposed from a former 9,900-square-foot indoor car wash, the company’s growth plan calls for doubling its work force in 2015, according to Chief Operating Officer Julie Zinn. The company will hire sales people, project managers and software, applications and power systems engineers.
The key product, Wave, is a software and hardware control system that coordinates variable renewable power generation with conventional generation, flexible demand and storage to provide reliable power. The company’s technology enables new energy production models at power plants that function with a combination of renewable energy such as wind paired with non-renewable sources.
The company will take part in the city of Fort Collins’ commercial incentive Solar Power Purchase Program by installing a 10-kilowatt solar system on-site optimized by Spirae micro-grid technology.
Job-site mishap inspires emergency innovation
In 2003, Josh Galindo was part of a group of oil and gas workers who saved a fellow worker after a serious accident, using only a belt as a tourniquet and dirty coveralls as gauze. The team had a required emergency kit, but it wasn’t enough. Road and weather conditions in rural Colorado meant medical help was hours away. The injured man, in his mid-20s, eventually lost much of his leg.
As founder of Nomadic Safety in Loveland in 2006, Galindo wants to prevent that type of trauma.
Nomadic Safety leases self-contained emergency treatment trailers for high-risk and far-removed job sites. The heavily insulated trailers include everything from eye wash stations to emergency showers and have remote GPS monitoring capabilities to track location and water temperatures.
Weld County oil and gas fields were the company’s proving grounds, and it has expanded its offerings to Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico and North Dakota. NomadicSafety.com
Hiring tool helps employers find the right fit
Software startup jobZology, based in the Innosphere business incubator in Fort Collins, uses academic science research to help find employees that fit companies and careers that fit people.
The company is the brainchild of two Colorado State University graduates along with two CSU psychology professors. The partners were matched through the CSU Ventures office, which helps the transfer of inventions and discoveries from academic work to the private sector.
“We use predictive analysis and science to match employees and companies to see whether or not a person is going to feel good about doing a job in that company,” said Eric Leftwich, jobZology co-founder.
The company, established three years ago, aimed to create a better hiring tool for businesses to be ready when the economy rebounded. jobZology has assisted northern Colorado companies such as New Belgium Brewing Co. and Columbine Health Systems and is addressing issues of disengaged workers, turnover rates and hiring costs. jobzology.com
More beer on tap – and travel tips to get it
Weld and Larimer counties are home to some 31 beer makers, including major brands, craft and nano-breweries, according to Fermentedly Challenged beer blogger Dave Butler of Greeley. That doesn’t count 14 new breweries in development, plus dozens of existing brew pubs, tap rooms and businesses that make mead and cider, Butler said.
Crafty businesses to transport thirsty folks to watering holes around town have hopped up as well for guests to taste and tour by buses, bikes
and designated drivers.
Magic Bus Tours: 20-seat bus tour including audio/visual history of the Fort Collins area, themagicbustours.com
NoCo Short Bus Tours: 14-seat bus leaves from Loveland, nocoshortbustours.com
Beer and Bike Tours: Commercial tours for exercise and “recovery” beverages, beerandbiketours.com
MyHandleBar: 16-person party bike in Old Town Fort Collins with a designated driver guide. Requires six pedalers, myhandlebar.com
Fast Forward: Blue Ocean Challenge
To coincide with 2015 Fort Collins Startup Week