The talk of technology – building biotech industry

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Colorado Springs has great potential to become a hub for biotechnology because of companies already in the area and the work of University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professor Karen Newell, said Ian Askill, president of Springs-based Aspire Biotech Inc., a biomaterials and medical device company.

However, Askill also listed factors that stump biotech growth in the area.

He discussed those issues at the January meeting of the Peak Venture Group.

Askill rated the Springs low in biotechnology investment. He said incentives must be in place for major biotech companies to look at the Springs, and that “world-class university research” and a research hospital are also needed. He also called for a biotech incubator.

He encouraged the development and growth of Springs-based biotechnology companies like Pyxant, Provident, Synthes, Spectranetics and CEA Technology.

“We can grow more small businesses,” he said. “We need the diversification. And when it reaches critical mass, it will grow naturally like it has elsewhere.”

The reasons biotech companies fold is no different than the reasons other companies fail: 50 percent bad management (greed, poor planning and ego); 30 percent bad investors (greed, manipulation and unrealistic expectations) and 20 percent bad technology (doesn’t perform or it’s superceded).

Another obstacle to the biotech industry is the Food and Drug Administration.

Askill listed several problems. He said that some drugs get approved three to five years later in the United States than in the European Union. He said it took the FDA 15 years to approve a device after it was approved in the EU. The FDA charges substantial fees for its review services.

No matter, biotech is alive and well at UCCS.

Newell, executive director of the University of Colorado Institute of Bioenergetics, also spoke during the venture group meeting. Newell told attendees that she is awaiting a patent for a drug that “kills” drug-resistant cancer cells.

Two local biotech companies were among four companies presenting to the group. Aqueous Biomedical develops implant technologies that counter the effects of fibrosis and scarring. HemoGenix Inc. is a contract test laboratory.

The other two presenters were Peridot Corp., provider of wireless Internet services for recreational vehicle travelers and Rocky Mountain Robotics, a student high school team that designs and builds remote-controlled robots for competition.

Center formed for Internet user research

A collaboration of business, education and government leaders, which includes the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming, have formed the Center for Internet Research to study “how the Internet has changed the way we live, work, play and do business,” according to a news release.

W. Reid Cornwell, former CEO and founder of Intratech, a high-tech executive search firm, said the center “will join an elite cadre of similar institutes in this area of research, and is the only one that is a collaboration of more than one university.”

To kick off the research, the center is hosting a conference, “The IT Summit,” March 22 in Denver. Information about the seminar is available at

The event is invitation only through online requests at the Web site.

Woodland Park company develops new product

Sturman Industries of Woodland Park has expanded its expertise in Hydraulic Valve Actuation through the development of a research module used to test variable valve actuation – combustion – on different engine architecture, according to a news release.

The HVA technology has been selected for three U.S. Department of Energy projects to improve vehicle efficiency.

The benefits of the technology include independent engine valve control; the ability to fit on many different engine applications; a sealed actuator, which eliminates the need for a valve cover; and enhanced flexibility over a cam-based system.

Visit for more information.

‘Lean’ guru coming to Colorado Springs

Masaaki Imai, founder and chairman of the Kaizen Institute, is scheduled to be in Colorado Springs April 3 and Denver April 4. Imai has written books about management techniques for industry, service and public sectors.

He will discuss the Kaizen philosophy and a traditional production system versus lean production, business challenges and how to mitigate roadblocks to success. Imai also will tour a plant and make suggestions on how to convert problems to opportunities.

The Colorado Association of Manufacturing and Technology and Colorado Performance Excellence are sponsoring the event, along with the Kaizen Institute.

Imai has worked with hundreds of companies in Japan, and, in 1986, he established the Kaizen Institute to introduce Japanese management and production concepts to western companies.

The event is $199 per person or $150 per person for three or more from the same organization. For more information, or to register, visit

Marylou Doehrman covers technology for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.