OEDIT Seeds Advanced Industry Collaborative Infrastructure Projects with $2.1 million in Grants to Colorado organizations

DENVER —Thursday, May 20, 2021 — The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) today announced infrastructure grantees for the Advanced Industries Accelerator Grant Program. A total of $2,068,287 of Collaborative Infrastructure Grants were approved for award by Colorado’s Economic Development Commission.  

Advanced Industries Collaborative Infrastructure Grants provide State funding to collaborative projects that will have a broad, industry-wide impact across one or more of Colorado’s Advanced Industries. Eligible projects must demonstrate solutions that provide workforce training, multiple industry partners, or advance industry mentorship for Colorado companies.

$500,000 – Rocky Mountain Innosphere – Fort Collins, CO 

Innosphere Ventures (Innosphere) is a Colorado-based incubator that accelerates business success of science and technology-based startups with an exclusive commercialization program, specialized laboratory facilities, and a seed-stage venture capital fund. 

Innosphere has been supporting startups, technical founders and entrepreneurs for 23 years and is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to create technology-based jobs and grow Colorado's entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Innosphere's long-standing, Colorado-focused commercialization program connects founders with experienced advisors, corporate partners, and investors. The program teaches entrepreneurs essential skills in capital formation, customers, building talented teams, accelerating top-line revenue growth, and more. Whether a company is early-stage, has its prototype, or is post-revenue, the program accelerates growth. 

To address the lack of wet lab space, Innosphere will construct a 7,500 sq/ft bioscience and advanced materials building located adjacent to Innosphere's current facility. The new facility will allow Innosphere to recruit and support 10 new startup bioscience and advanced materials companies that can meaningfully advance these clusters in Northern Colorado

$651,686 – GeoVisual Technologies, Inc. - Westminster, CO

This proposal is for Phase 2 of a two-phase initiative to establish the Precision Agriculture Collaboration Initiative (PACI). PACI will assist the commercial growth of both large and small Colorado businesses in several of OEDIT’s Advanced Industries (“AIs”) by targeting opportunities in the overlooked and underserved agriculture sector, particularly for high-value and perishable crops such as fruits, vegetables and hemp. Agriculture is one of Colorado’s key industries, and the essential elements are in place along the Colorado Front Range for the emergence and growth of an innovation-led industry cluster in agriculture and food (Graff, Berklund and Rennals, 2014). However, given the production complexities of agriculture, plus the added challenges with perishable crops, substantial customer and supply chain insight is required to accelerate technology adoption and business growth in this nascent market segment for Advanced Industry companies. 

PACI’s drives ongoing collaborations between CO companies and universities developing technologies in multiple AIs, and the growers, processors and shippers of ag products operating principally in the Western U.S. and Europe. Involving national research programs and commercial and academic stakeholders, the initiative also promotes opportunities for applied research and tech development focused on the most pressing issues in the high-value ag sector, driving additional business and employment growth for the state. 

A principal PACI objective is to coordinate with existing CO programs focused on tech incubation and commercialization, bringing lessons learned and best practices on how to engage the high-value crop industries in other Western states. It will thereby not duplicate but complement existing state programs with new, focused market management and applied R&D activities towards the goal of establishing a regional Center of Excellence for precision ag, food supply chains, and the associated disciplines of natural resource management and sustainability.

$499,935 – Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center – Colorado Springs, CO

The United States military depends more and more on international and commercial space assets for national security. Today, there are commercial space offerings that make for Earth-bound reliance on satellites for commodity navigation, energy resilience, transportation services, national defense, disaster warning and emergency response. Limited resources exist to identify threats and vulnerabilities, information sharing of such, and testing and evaluation of the security of space assets. Our organization seeks to combat this concerning problem, with both an immediate and long-term approach to assist in securing space, as it impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives. 

The National Cybersecurity Center (NCC) operates the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (Space ISAC) for this express purpose. Space ISAC is a public-private partnership with representation from across the globe. Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) exist to help critical infrastructure owners and operators protect their facilities, personnel and customers from cyber and physical security threats and other hazards. Space ISAC’s mission is to enhance our ability to prepare for and respond to vulnerabilities, incidents and threats. Space ISAC provides members with tools to mitigate risks and enhance resiliency. Members receive timely and actionable information and reach deep into the space sectors, communicating critical information far and wide and maintaining sector-wide situational awareness. Space ISAC serves as the primary communications channel for the sector, and no other Space ISAC exists in the world.

Space ISAC is counting on OEDIT’s support to provide infrastructure (consoles, servers, display wall and workstation components) for the SIHQ and with this funding Space ISAC will launch the SIWC, CVL, and accompanying data center for the global space community from Colorado Springs. Then, when our military call on commercial space capabilities for support there is a secure solution or environment available to them.

$250,000 – The Warehouse Business Accelerator – Loveland, CO

The Warehouse Advanced Technology Scaleup Hub project (“Warehouse Hub”) is an innovative and collaborative initiative to fill a specific gap in Colorado’s Advanced Industries ecosystem. We are well aware that technologies can fail to commercialize all along the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) spectrum and throughout the entrepreneurial startup process. Our institutions and ecosystem partners are working tirelessly to support technology acceleration and entrepreneurial support for startups.

The Warehouse Hub facility enables Advanced Industry companies to bridge a period of scaling and growth with a flexible, transitional location. There is an acute lack of 500sf – 2000sf manufacturing-ready spaces in the market. Tech transfer and incubator graduates are not all positioned to sign multi-year leases on large industrial spaces. The Warehouse Hub plug-and-play manufacturing and production facility comes with industrial power, data, ventilation, and light manufacturing infrastructure built-in. Month-to-month leases give companies flexibility with room to grow. A "Shared Equipment Lab" allows members to focus their limited resources on the major equipment unique to their processes. An onsite Marketing Studio provides key equipment and space for filming, photographing and recording content for marketing and sales activities key to company growth.

$166,666 – Display Devices, Inc./Denver Theatre District, Inc.- Golden, CO

Large scale video projection mapping is a new and dynamic urban art format that is poised to expand dramatically in downtowns across the country. 

Display Devices, Inc. has implemented two very successful mapping projects in downtown Denver. The first is a permanent installation projecting on the historic D&F Tower called Night Lights Denver. This was the first permanent projection installation in Denver and, based on our research, among the first five in the nation. 

Night Lights Denver has been operating effectively for over a year. A range of art has been displayed from top international artists to elementary school students. The installation dubbed "The People's Projector," has been very well received, and is "proof of concept" that projection truly engages the community. 

Additionally, over the 2020 holidays, the Display Devices team installed a temporary projection project at Union Station. The effort was a highlight of the downtown Denver holiday experience and fit well in the COVID environment where large crowds could experience the art safely given the scale and size of the projection. 

A key lesson from the two installations was that projection mapping on massive physical canvases is fairly straightforward to implement with the right expertise. 

Also, in comparison to other large scale urban art installations, video projection is (i) reasonably priced, (ii) far more flexible in terms of artistic presentation, (iii) allows for a greater range of artists that can use the platform and, (iv) post-COVID, is a safe urban community entertainment platform. 

Video projection mapping is focused on two key elements: (i) a significant building or structure (ideally architecturally complex); and (ii) approximately ten projectors which can be placed in a fixed projection room located anywhere from 100 to 1,000 feet away or can be housed in individual enclosures.

Because of technical advancements developed by the Colorado team, high-quality projection is now feasible for urban markets and this grant will enable Display Devices to showcase this technology at a high visibility location (an IM Pei designed facade) which will cement downtown Denver as a hub for video projection technology and usage. 

The team's technical lead for the grant is Display Devices Inc. a Colorado Company (DDI), with decades of experience in high-end media fabrication and installation. DDI's founder, Merv Perkins, began his technical education in the Air Force in Vietnam. He continued his relationship with the government assisting in the build-out of the technical infrastructure of NORAD. DDI has grown over the last 30 years with clients all over the world but remains a local Colorado company. Based on the success of the D&F Tower installation, and hopefully, this grant, DDI intends to bring projection installations to Atlanta, West Hollywood and other locations. 

DDI is partnering with Denver Civic Ventures, an affiliate of the Downtown Denver Partnership (DCV). DCV is Colorado's leader for public-private urban development and is the primary funder of the project. DCV will operate the projection installation and intends that the installation be a key part of its Denver City of Light initiative that will include controllable street lighting and artistic installations throughout downtown. 

The Denver Theatre District (DTD) is the project's "art" partner. The DTD was formed ten years ago and was the first entity in the US to utilize curated commercial outdoor media platforms as a funding mechanism for urban space public art. The DTD operates Night Lights Denver at the D&F Tower and has been working with projection artists for 18 months through its deep connections in the Colorado visual arts community. 

These connections will not only benefit this project, but will also be a conduit for funding and creativity for the Colorado visual arts community. 

Given the Display Devices team, the positive trend in projection equipment pricing, and the need for public art that is sustainable, environmentally friendly and COVID safe, this grant will create an inspiring installation that will transform Denver into the epicenter for this new art format.

Collaborative Infrastructure Funding Grants applications are reviewed by committees comprised of business, technical and financial experts, as well as an industry-specific review. Final recommendations are reviewed and determined with approval from the Colorado Economic Development Commission.

The Advanced Industry Accelerator Programs (AIA) were created in 2013 to promote growth and sustainability in Colorado’s advanced industries by driving innovation, accelerating commercialization, encouraging public-private partnerships, increasing access to early-stage capital and creating a strong infrastructure that increases the state’s capacity to be globally competitive. AIA encompasses three distinct grant programs: Proof of Concept, Early Stage Capital and Retention, and Commercialization Infrastructure.