START UP COLORADO: Tech Transfer, SBDCs, Angel Investment

January 9, 2012


The Facts

Tech Transfer – Rep. Dave Young (D-Greeley)

Colorado’s research institutions are incubators of new technologies that can revolutionize industries all over the world.  If we can help transfer those new technologies from those institutions to the private sector, there is no doubt we will create plenty of new jobs right here in Colorado.  This bill will help start up the economic engine that Colorado’s research institutions have the potential to be by bringing critical resources to Colorado’s research institutions in order to bring those technologies developed in Colorado’s laboratories to the marketplace.

Major Provision of the Bill

This bill creates the Start-Up Colorado Technology Transfer Grant Program, which will improve and expand the development of technological discoveries and help accelerate the development of new products and services and the creation of new jobs in Colorado.  Many of Colorado’s research institutions have Offices of Technology Transfer that help bring technologies developed at a research institution to the marketplace.

The Department of Economic Development and International Trade will administer the program by providing grants to Colorado’s research institutions for the purpose of accelerating the development of new products and innovative services, with the intent of creating new job creators.  Grants cannot exceed $750,000.  To enhance accountability and transparency, grant applications must include a detailed analysis demonstrating that the grant would enhance the commercialization of a promising new technology; a list of potential matching funds; and a detailed description of the overall plan for the tech transfer.

In sum…

Colorado’s research institutions are on the cutting edge of developing new technologies, but there isn’t yet a system in place for rapidly and efficiently bringing those discoveries to the marketplace.  With the funding this bill provides, Colorado’s innovators will be able to take their inventions to the private sector with greater ease, creating more Colorado companies and Colorado jobs.

Small Business Development Centers – Rep.  Max Tyler (D-Lakewood)

Since the mid ‘80s SBDCs all around Colorado have been helping existing and proposed small businesses succeed.  Seminars, the Leading Edge training program, and individual counseling are some of the resources available to help business success.

Currently, there are 14 Centers in Colorado hosted primarily by local chambers of commerce, community colleges and universities.  Each center raises funds via direct or in-kind contributions to draw down 1:1 Federal matching funds.

With a staff of four and a general fund appropriation of less than $85,000, the Centers served over 5,000 businesses, created 1,700 jobs and assisted in nearly $85 million in small business capital formation in 2010.

Colorado has earned a top 10 rating in the country each year since 1987 and just last year was audited and had no negative conditions noted.

Yet with all that, we are missing an opportunity to increase small business support.  With tougher times for chambers of commerce and colleges it has been increasingly difficult to provide matching funds.  We are leaving money on the table that we could potentially draw down from the Federal program to serve more businesses.

Major Provision of the Bill

The goal of this bill is to provide up to an additional $300,000 for the next two years to draw down additional Federal Funding.  These matching funds would be distributed to every one of the existing centers on an equitable basis. They could also be used to reopen any center that has been closed in the last two years. As a condition of the legislation, the funds would not be provided unless federal matching funds were actually available.  At this time, Colorado does not receive its full share based on the population formula used by the Small Business Administration.

This additional funding would represent a 25% to 40% increase in funding for the centers throughout the state. The benefit of the additional funding can and will be accurately tracked to measure the additional effectiveness in the areas of job creation and capital formation for client small businesses.  Because this data has been consistently collected for several years, this will not be an onerous additional burden on the statewide program or individual centers.

In sum…

SBDCs help local, home grown Colorado businesses succeed.  These are core jobs for Colorado where small business is a primary driver for job growth and total employment.  Whether it is a rapidly growing business with primary jobs or a local business supporting a few families providing services to their locally community, these are the businesses that build a strong foundation for Colorado’s economy.

Funding for the Innovation or “Angel” Investor Tax Credit – Rep.  John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins)

In 2009, House Bill 1105 created a pilot program which provided a tax credit for qualified investors that made investments during 2010 in Colorado start-up businesses involved primarily in research, development and manufacturing of new technologies, products or processes.  In 2011, with the leadership of Rep. John Kefalas and Sen. Linda Newell, the General Assembly reauthorized the program but provided no funding.

The Colorado Innovation Investment Tax Credit is the type of smart, targeted state program that can have a huge impact.  The program has been shown to have helped create 21 different businesses in 13 cities across Colorado.  Angel investors provide seed money to Colorado’s start-up companies and can receive up to $20,000 in tax credits from the state for a large qualified investment.  The goal is simply for the General Assembly to fund the program, helping to create even more businesses and jobs right here in Colorado.

In sum…

Angel investors can provide much needed start-up capital to Colorado’s small businesses, which are the economic engine that drives our state.  This bill seeks to incentivize investment in Colorado’s small businesses by providing angel investors with a tax credit for making a qualified investment in a Colorado start-up company, which will lead to more jobs for Colorado.

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