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Colorado Incubator Site Warms to Medical Device Entrepreneurs

NEWS TRENDS

The Colorado Bioscience Park in Aurora, CO, is actively recruiting device start-ups.
Start-up companies are integral to the success of the medical device and diagnostic industry as a whole. But even good ideas can fail because the people involved don't have the resources to make their products fly. So, around the country, incubator sites have sprung up to help such entrepreneurs develop medical products.

One example is the Colorado Bioscience Park in Aurora, CO. The 160-acre campus includes the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Hospital Complex, The Children's Hospital, and the Fitzsimons Commons town center. Start-up and early-stage bioscience companies can use the university facilities and the hospitals as resources for development of medical devices and biotech products.

“Because everything is closely located, small companies have access to resources they would never be able to get on their own. We even supply fax and copier machines—those expensive items that small businesses usually can't afford,” says Jill Sikora Farnam, executive director of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority.

Jay Westcott owns Elisa Tech LLC, a company that supplies immunoassay kits for cytokines, growth factors, and lipid inflammatory mediators. He has been at the facility for five years and is very pleased with the development. “I moved here from a lab that had been built in the 1950s. When I toured the Fitzsimons facility, I found that everything was new,” he says.

Entrepreneurs can rent start-up offices, with options to move to other buildings on-site as their business grows. They also have access to core labs at the university's research complex, loaner scientific equipment, and a medical library slated to open in 2008.

Currently, the park does not have any device companies, but Vicki Jennings, director of research park operations, says the group is actively recruiting them. “Estimates for growth indicate that the park will employ 19,000 teachers, researchers, and patient-care workers by 2010,” she says. “Marketing is targeted toward all companies in bioscience, including medical devices. When we evaluate companies, we base our decisions on the research being performed, the growth strategies, and the financial resources.”

So far, says Farnam, the site is host to 17 biotech companies (with capacity for more than 20), and the $4.3 billion park is still being converted from an army base. A landmark army hospital will serve as administrative offices.

“The current thinking is that companies that have access to hospitals for clinical trials, lab equipment, and up-to-date research will be able to create better products and serve public health more effectively,” says Farnam.

Westcott agrees. “The people here are very easy to work with and are dedicated to helping me succeed.”

The hope is that companies that begin their business at the park will opt to stay and contribute to the growing bioscience industry in Colorado, says Denise Brown. She is executive director of the Colorado Bioscience Association, which is part of a concerted effort to promote biotech industries within the state. Other stakeholders in the park include the Adams County Economic Division, the Aurora Economy Development Council, the MetroDenver Economic Development Corp., and the University of Colorado at Denver.

Copyright ©2007 Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry
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