Coalition forms to promote innovation, entrepreneurship in Colorado Springs

March 19, 2014 Updated: March 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm

More than 20 Colorado Springs companies and organizations have formed a coalition, Innovate Colorado Springs, to promote innovation and entrepreneurship through a four-day series of events highlighting the area's resources for startup businesses.

The coalition is sponsoring 15 events April 14-17 to focus on the area's entrepreneurial strengths, promote new and existing activities and start a community conversation on the area's culture of innovation, said Joe Raso, CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, one of the 21 groups involved in Innovate Colorado Springs.

The events, many of which are free, are listed on the coalition's website,, where reservations can be made.

"One of the most important attributes of a strong regional economy that attracts and retains talent is a creative, innovative culture," Raso said in a news release issued Tuesday announcing the formation of Innovate Colorado Springs. "This is a way to start the conversation, recognize things that are already happening and bring in ideas from other markets."

Raso indicated that the group expects to extend its work beyond the four-day event, but nothing has been firmed up.

"It is intended to be an ongoing activity to help our community become more engaged and connected with each other and other cities to drive innovation and entrepreneurship," Raso said.

The April initiative includes sessions with executives from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation on entrepreneurial education and ecosystems, an entrepreneurial mindset and community dynamics; an innovation lab with the Harwood Institute; a higher education panel with representatives from several local universities and colleges; open houses at local gathering places for entrepreneurs; and three opportunities for entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to other entrepreneurs and potential investors.

The last event will be a brainstorming luncheon hosted by The Gazette from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 17 at The Pinery at the Hill, 775 W. Bijou St., to discuss lessons learned from the week's events and develop plans to "keep the momentum around a new culture of innovation for Colorado Springs moving forward," Gazette Publisher Dan Steever said.

"There are exciting, creative ideas and events happening all over the Pikes Peak region," Joe Coleman, owner of The Blue Star restaurant and a partner in the Ivywild School redevelopment, said in the news release. "Innovate Colorado Springs celebrates and shines a light on existing efforts and embraces new ideas to provide a framework for support and resources to propel entrepreneurial efforts forward."

Innovate Colorado Springs sprang from an informal gathering in August and continued with brainstorming sessions involving the business alliance, Pikes Peak Workforce Center, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College and others. Group members traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, to learn more about work force development; to Kansas City, Mo., for training to offer the Kauffman Foundation's Ice House Entrepreneurship Program; and to California for the Global Innovation Summit.

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