Springs is a catalyst for tech innovation

By: ted rayburn newspaper
August 1, 2016 Updated: August 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm
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Ted Rayburn 11/19/15. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

It's billed as a "Storytelling Road Tour," but make no mistake: The stories of technology's ascendancy in Colorado are compelling because they are nonfiction.

Tech companies have contributed greatly to Colorado's vibrant economy and low unemployment rate; plus, they are laying the groundwork for this state to be a leader in a U.S. economy that probably will look very different from what it is today.

The second annual tour by the Colorado Technology Association starts Monday in Colorado Springs, part of Colorado Tech Week. The stories that will be told are of the innovators who have developed our state into an international tech hub.

The state organization's road trip, which will wend through Frisco, Vail, Grand Junction, Fort Collins and Longmont on Tuesday through Friday, could not happen without its regional hosts, and it's fitting that the tour begins in the Springs with no less than 15 local sponsors including AMP10x, Catalyst Campus, CBRE, CenturyLink, the Regional Business Alliance, Colorado Springs Utilities, HPE, ReadyTalk, SendGrid, Small Business Development Center, Swiftpage, Ubee Interactive, Verizon, ViaWest, Zayo.

I hope that on Monday, when participants convene from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Ivywild School, the story of founding the Catalyst Campus will be told - also, that listeners will learn at least a bit of the tech developers and entrepreneurs who preceded them in the Springs.

It's important to understand that the decision to create the campus here did not happen overnight; it took the vision and the will of people who have worked for years toward the establishment of Colorado Springs as the place to nurture tech startups. Too often, I hear people talk about Colorado Springs' tech sector as if it were dropped here recently, intact with a bow on it, from Denver or elsewhere. This impression discounts the influence of our military installations and Springs-based aerospace and defense contractors as well as software companies that have been working in the Springs for some time.

Take, for example, Atmel (now Microchip), the company featured in Sunday's Business section. For years, this Colorado Springs facility has competed successfully with semiconductor fabrication plants in Asia - even though the plant's technology is two generations behind the industry standard. It is behind in technology, yet it keeps pace through efficiency and other measures.

That ability to do more with less is highly innovative. It captures the spirit of technology and entrepreneurialism, even at a facility that employs 900 people.

Maybe it isn't the prototype for the coolest and latest boutique-style startup, but many of the new tech companies owe much to such predecessors.

There are definitely stories here to be told.

Incidentally, the centerpiece of Monday's visit, the Tech Roundup at Ivywild, is open to the public but you need to register by visiting coloradotechtour.org.

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Send Gazette Business Editor Ted Rayburn your ideas on business and the southern Colorado economy at 636-0194 or ted.rayburn@gazette.com.

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