Guest column

Innovators keep state economy expanding

By U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet
Posted

Colorado is known worldwide for our endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, our 300-plus days of sunshine a year, and even our diversity of craft brewers. We have also developed a solid reputation as a hub for invention and innovation. Colorado companies have an entrepreneurial spirit that is driving new ideas, spurring economic growth, and creating jobs.

Recently, we saw some of this firsthand, touring companies across the state that are thriving because of their innovative products and solutions. From Grand Junction to Fort Collins, Colorado companies are focused on inventing the future.

In Boulder, we met with the owners of Newton Running. Their advanced sole technology is propelling both runners - and the Newton business - faster and farther. In Grand Junction, we visited Tim and Christy Fry, who moved here from Ohio to invest in Colorado-developed technology because of our great quality of life and business-friendly climate. Their company, Mountain Racing Products, makes top-of-the-line biking components that are shipped all over the world, and they employ nearly two dozen Coloradans. We also stopped by Western Slope Industries, the only U.S.-based manufacturer of large, industrial machines that fold and seal packages for food products. They employ more than 60 people in their 45,000-square-foot facility.

In Fort Collins and Loveland, we toured the VanDyne SuperTurbo Headquarters and the engines lab where the company tests its equipment. VanDyne's patented SuperTurbo engine combines a turbocharger and a transmission into one device, improving fuel efficiency and horsepower while reducing emissions. The SuperTurbo can power the likes of city buses, Caterpillar bulldozers, and John Deere tractors.

Finally, in Park Hill, we saw Never Summer Industries turn blocks of locally sourced wood into high-quality skis and snowboards. Never Summer is one of only a handful of companies still manufacturing snowboards in the United States, producing more than 240 snowboards a day.

All of these companies are building success through innovation. And one thing almost all of them have in common is patented technology. You may not know it, but that convex and concave design on your Never Summer snowboard is original, patented technology. And that distinctive pop sensation you feel on the balls of your feet when you're running in a Newton shoe? That's patented too. So is Western Slope Industries' machine process that makes the cardboard packaging that holds your morning orange juice.

The patent process is an important part of our state's economy, helping inventors and entrepreneurs build successful businesses, generate revenue, and create new jobs.

That's one of the reasons we coordinated a statewide effort to bring a satellite patent office right here to Colorado. The opening of the United States Patent and Trademark Satellite Office this summer in Denver - one of only four cities nationwide selected to house a satellite office - benefits firms like these by providing an improved and more accessible patent process. That means reduced review times for patent applications, reduced costs for patent filers, and more access to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office resources throughout the process. Plus, it will create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and add roughly $440 million in economic activity to our state.

Colorado's deeply embedded culture of innovation has established our state as a destination for inventors, innovators, and new ideas. The opening of the USPTO satellite facility solidifies this reputation. From energy-efficient engines to high-tech running shoes, companies throughout our state are creating a bright future and propelling our state forward.

Democrat Michael Bennet has represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate since 2009.