State of the state: Business Development

Editor’s note: In mid-September, 160 community leaders from Denver traveled to
Boston for the 2011 Leadership Exchange trip, sponsored by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. We asked several of the delegates to share their perspectives on the trip with ColoradoBiz, one of the trip’s sponsors. We’ve culled a sampling of the seven articles, which appear in their entirety at


Keeping Education
in the Spotlight
by Maureen Mcdonald

The delegation heard from the Boston Foundation’s President and CEO Paul Grogan, who spoke about education reform via the charter school movement. While the foundation’s mission is to help enact widespread change, it also strives to keep issues in the public view.
One way that does this is through the Boston Indicators Project, a biennial report through the year 2030 that offers new ways to understand Boston and its neighborhoods in a regional, national and global context.
By synthesizing data from a wealth of information and research generated by public agencies, civic institutions, think tanks and community organizations, the project ( predicts trends and helps to develop strategic alignment among leaders in the public, private and nonprofit arenas.
The Denver Metro Leadership Foundation plans to launch its own version of this program. Tentatively titled “Colorado in Context,” it will collect data from organizations like the Mile High United Way, Colorado Health Foundation and Piton Foundation to help educate Coloradans about key issues, inform process and shape policy. Stay tuned over the coming months for more information.
Maureen McDonald is executive director of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation


Innovation and Entrepreneurship
by Vic Ahmed

The Boston trip started with a keynote from one of the top innovators and entrepreneurs in the country, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, the chairman of Sparta Group LLC, A123 Systems, Sycamore Networks, Tejas Networks, Sandstone Capital and HiveFire.
Deshpande serves as a board member of MIT, and through the Deshpande Foundation that he established with his wife, Jaishree, launched MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation in 2002. The Deshpande Center has awarded more than 80 grants to support the commercialization of a wide range of emerging technologies in biotechnology, biomedical devices, information technology, new materials, tiny tech and energy innovation. Twenty-three companies have been launched from these grants and have collectively raised more than $300 million in capital.
We also had an opportunity to visit the Cambridge Innovation Center – the largest incubator in the U.S. – which houses more than 400 companies in four floors in the center of Kendall Square. It was eye-opening to see an ecosystem that is nurturing such a large number of companies, creating jobs, creating wealth through innovation and entrepreneurship.
Vic Ahmed is CEO and president of Plug and Play Colorado, a business incubator.


Biomedical Bonanza
by Lilly Marks

One of the core segments of this year’s LEX trip was Boston’s amazing bioscience and technology transfer success.
Massachusetts strategically decided that its comparative advantage is its intellectual capital. Business and governmental leaders described how Massachusetts has embraced biotechnology development: Since 2001, that job sector has experienced a 53 percent increase in job growth. The state employs 49,000 in the biotechnology sector, with a payroll of $4.6 billion.
Boston has the strongest collection of universities in one urban location, with four academic medical centers, and in funding terms the city has the top five National Institutes of Health-funded hospitals in the country. The state has the highest per capita venture capital investment in the U.S.
How can Colorado compete?
The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus and the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority have created the infrastructure to incubate great biomedical ideas into commercial applications, and the University of Colorado is a state leader in invention disclosures and patent filings.
We already recognize the importance of connecting researchers and innovators with the corporate world. We need to create a culture of entrepreneurialism in our research universities, attract funding for venture capital and angel investors.
Lilly Marks is executive vice chancellor, Anschutz Medical Campus, and vice president for health affairs at the University of Colorado.

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Taking a Cue From Northeastern’s Co-op Program
by Stephen Jordan

The Northeastern University Cooperative Education Program began 100 years ago with four employers and eight students. Today, some 2,500 students participate annually in the five-year program, which combines guided work experiences with a rigorous academic program.
The program consists of two to three six-month co-op cycles. When the student is participating in their co-op experience at an employer, they are not charged tuition but are treated as an employee of the company, which pays the appropriate salary level for the position.
With 35,000 undergraduate baccalaureate students attending Metropolitan State College of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver, there is a wonderful opportunity to establish a similar program.
The business community would need to commit by establishing full-time positions at competitive compensation. Metropolitan State College of Denver and the University of Colorado at Denver would need to adjust their academic calendars to accommodate the six-month cooperative education cycle.
Imagine the possibility of having 2,500 hundred students or more participating in this kind of experiential learning with the opportunity for the majority of those students to become gainfully employed in business.
Stephen Jordan is president of Metropolitan State College of Denver


Denver Could
Learn a Few Things From Boston
by Jamie Van Leeuwen
Both on the health-care front and nonprofit arena, Boston has a lot to brag about with an industry that has done a remarkable job of partnering with higher education to hit the ball out of the park. Go to Harvard, MIT, or stop by City Year and see how Boston is making waves with health care and serving the underserved.
We are too! This year’s trip opened our eyes to the enormous potential of Fitzsimons if industry leaders, the public sector and higher education work in close partnership. As for City Year, thanks to the Walton Family Foundation and Comcast (and others), this innovative approach to mentoring is landing in Colorado this fall.
We saw a model charter school in Boston that was supported through an innovative private-public partnership and yielded impressive test scores from underserved, hard-to-reach students.
We have those same model schools here in Colorado, like the Denver School for Science and Technology. We are working hard, in the business community and at all levels of government, to make sure every school in the state is a model school with great teachers.
Jamie Van Leeuwen is senior policy adviser for Gov. John Hickenlooper.


The Massachusetts Plan: a Blueprint
for Reform
by Jandel Allen-Davis

In 2006, 10 percent of Massachusetts’ citizens were uninsured, 71 percent of employers offered insurance, and universal access to care and coverage was a shared value. With the highest health care costs in the nation, the goal was to drive down the cost of health care and improve quality.
Since passage of the Massachusetts Plan, 400,000 people have obtained insurance coverage, half of them covered through their employer, and 2 percent of the state’s citizens are uninsured. Ninety-three percent of employers offer coverage. Premium rate increases have stabilized at less than 5 percent year over year.
Health reform’s net cost to the state is approximately 1 percent of the total annual budget. The state is beginning to address cost, and payment reform efforts are just beginning: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has instituted a payment model that rewards improved quality outcomes.
Colorado has some of the lowest health-care costs in the nation, 55 percent of employers offer insurance, and 17 percent of Coloradans are uninsured. Modern reform efforts began with Gov. Bill Owens and continued with Gov. Bill Ritter.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act has accelerated the pace of change, and the establishment of the Health Insurance Exchange Governing Board under Gov. John Hickenlooper’s leadership is the next chapter. Colorado has chosen a less regulatory approach to exchange creation, viewing the exchange as a marketplace for the purchase of affordable insurance for individuals and small businesses.
Jandel Allen-Davis, M.D., is vice president, government and external relations, Kaiser Permanente Colorado


Boston Education Reform and Lessons
for Colorado
Business Leaders
by Scott Laband

As the vice president of Colorado Succeeds – a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to reforming the state’s education system – I am often asked why businesspeople care about the education system and what they have to offer.
My time in Boston for the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s 2011 Leadership Exchange trip provided impressive answers to those questions and reaffirmed what we already know: Business leaders have the obligation and opportunity to transform our public education system to better serve our students.
Based on our conversations with leaders from the business, nonprofit and education sectors, it is clear that core business principles such as accountability, transparency, innovation and return on investment are equally applicable in our school systems as they are in corporate board rooms
What’s more, the business community represents a powerful and unique voice in the debate. As the end users of the education system’s product, we care deeply about preparing students to succeed in a competitive global economy.
Colorado businesses are already at the education reform table and are fully engaged. With a strict focus on improving student outcomes, business leaders are helping solve Colorado’s most complex systemic problems by infusing a businesslike approach.
Scott Laband is vice president of Colorado Succeeds.
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