Colorado business leaders and partners want to raise the state’s profile as a regional technology and innovation hub by earning an official federal government designation of a tech hub.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration will launch a competitive process to make 20 federally-designated “Tech Hubs” across the country. The designation could be worth millions in federal aid.
There will be $500 million in appropriated funding available in 2023, according to a press release from Gov. Jared Polis’ office. The Regional Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hub) opportunity falls under the U.S. CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August by President Joe Biden, which provides roughly $280 billion in new funding to boost domestic research and manufacturing of semiconductors in the United States.
State officials will point to strengths like robust research and development, a strong workforce, established public-private partnerships, and growth in technology and innovation industries, according to the release.
“In Colorado, we are proud of our nation-leading, innovative work to boost advanced industries and make sure technology and business can thrive,” Gov. Polis said in the release. “Colorado is more than ready for this exciting opportunity to leverage our hardworking workforce and robust research and development ecosystem.”
The Rural Opportunity Office and Minority Business Office divisions of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) will aid in connecting diverse communities throughout the state to programs that will benefit them. Additionally, the Colorado Startup Loan Fund and new Venture Capital Authority partnership will be able to provide equitable access to business development resources, according to the release.
In a Wednesday meeting organized by the Economic Development Administration, stakeholders discussed the tech hub designation.
Eve Lieberman, OEDIT executive director, Trent Thompson, economic development representative for Colorado and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), Wendy Lea, Energize Colorado Co-Founder & CEO, Mike Freeman, CEO at Innosphere Ventures and consultant J.B. Holston — along with several other government and business leaders — discussed the importance of the application and what positive impacts it would have for Colorado’s businesses.
Being designated as a tech hub will encourage new entrepreneurs to start businesses and incentivize existing entrepreneurs to grow their business because of the investment the government wants to make, Lea said. Overall the designation will help improve the state’s economy, which leads to helping all Coloradans down the line.
“When you have an aggregation of small businesses that are learning from each other and are bringing in new sources of talent that are inclusive, then the momentum that you get from that density really drives capability that’s global in nature, not just local in nature,” Lea said.
“Technologies are involved in all kinds of businesses,” she said. “Technology is no longer just for a certain kind of business, it has now been democratized so all businesses have tech components to them because they enable growth and efficiency.”