Bennet Applauds Governor's Signing of State Bill to Boost Colorado's High-Tech Sector

Builds on Recommendations from Colorado Competes Report

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet applauded the passage of a bill Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law to help create new highly-skilled jobs, increase exports, and drive innovation and capital investment.

The Advanced Industries Accelerator Act will also create stronger partnerships between educational institutions and industry, accelerate technology commercialization and promote Colorado’s research and development activities.

The bill addresses a recommendation included in the Colorado Competes report, commissioned by Bennet and reported back to Bennet, Senator Mark Udall and Hickenlooper. The report, prepared by Coloradans for an Innovation Economy, urged state and federal elected officials to “work together to find new ways to attract capital into our state and to encourage investment into early stage companies struggling with advancing technology from research and development through commercialization.”

“Colorado has established a reputation as one of the country’s most vibrant clusters of innovation, technological development, and economic growth,” Bennet said. “This bill demonstrates Colorado's commitment to nurturing a favorable and collaborative business environment for innovative companies who want to work with our network of university and federal research institutions, creating high paying jobs and a stronger economy.”

The bill creates competitive grant programs for “proof of concept” research and development, early stage capital and retention and for infrastructure to help Colorado’s high-tech industries generate new opportunities to raise capital. The grants will encourage more collaboration between industry, research institutions and federal laboratories, and private-sector funders.

The bill also complements Bennet’s efforts to improve the effectiveness of the technology-transfer process between federal laboratories and industry and his work on immigration reform to attract foreign-born talent to the U.S., both recommendations in Colorado Competes.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, Bennet and Senator John Rockefeller (D-WV) asked the agency to evaluate ways to improve access to information about new technologies developed through federal research that are available for commercialization.

Bennet advocated for reforms in the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill that he helped introduce with the ‘Group of 8’ that would help attract and retain foreign entrepreneurs and students. The bill includes a new INVEST visa for immigrant entrepreneurs who seek to start new businesses and create jobs in the United States. Taking a page from Bennet’s 2011 STEM Visa Act, the bill also makes green cards more available for students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields.  This will help the thousands of firms across Colorado that have long had to grapple with a convoluted visa system and will now be able to utilize this talent.

Bennet is also working closely with Governor Hickenlooper and a cluster of entrepreneurial stakeholders across the state to bring a new manufacturing innovation institute to Colorado, part of a new federal pilot program that President Obama announced earlier this year. The institute would facilitate a partnership between the public and private sectors to support cutting-edge research and help further drive our innovation economy forward. 

Last year, Bennet released a progress report, Colorado Competes: One Year Later, which outlined advances in several areas that were recommended in the original report, including improved federal and state collaboration, a successful bid for a regional U.S. Patent Office, regulatory reform, and new paths to bring capital into the state.