By Veronica Penney
When experts talk about the strength of startup culture in Colorado, they point to community-building initiatives like the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in Colorado Springs.
The Catalyst Campus, made possible through a strategic partnership with Comcast, is a collaborative ecosystem driving innovation and facilitating aerospace, defense and related industry growth while creating a pillar for the future of Colorado Springs’ economy. Located in downtown Colorado Springs, the campus offers co-working spaces, research and development resources, classrooms, and even classes available to the larger Colorado Springs and Southern Colorado communities.
The goal of the Catalyst Campus is to create “an infrastructure and a platform for startup companies and medium-to-small-sized companies to build their businesses,” explains Jeremy Shirley, Community Manager for The Catalyst Campus.
Resources will be available to aid entrepreneurs and startups in any phase of the business process. “The idea is that you can go from an idea, all the way up to a full product, to a full business here on the campus. We want companies to grow as our campus grows,” says Shirley.
“Part of providing the infrastructure includes things like fiber internet, conference rooms, event facilities—we have the Harvey House that seats up to 100 people.”
“We want companies to grow as our campus grows.” — Jeremy Shirley
The idea behind classrooms and onsite training is to address the “workforce gap,” which refers to employees who are missing some of the skills and training that they need to progress in their careers. Weekend workshops, meetups, full-immersion courses, and classes led by adjunct professors will create education opportunities for those looking to hone their skills.
The Catalyst Campus co-working will follow a familiar model, with hot desks, dedicated desks, and private offices or suites available for lease. Leasing terms are flexible and take into account the stage that each startup or business venture has reached.
“When you’re a hot desk member or a dedicated desk member that’s part of the collaborative space, we realize that you may be fresh out of college or you had an idea that you want to make into a business but you’re not sure that it may succeed,” explains Shirley. Commitments start at one month, so if the business venture is not successful, tenants aren’t locked into a multi-year lease.
The Southern Colorado Technology Alliance (SCTA) has also teamed up with The Catalyst Campus to provide resources and opportunities to members. When an individual company may not have the resources or expertise to pursue a contract, through the SCTA, companies will be able to team together to combine resources and knowledge. This allows companies to pursue contracts awarded through the US Government.
“The idea is to create cooperation within the competition here in Colorado Springs. The reason for that is we realize that we’re not just competing with each other here in Colorado Springs: It’s really at a national and even more so, an international level,” notes Shirley.
Some of the anticipated tenants will represent industries like aerospace, cybersecurity and IT, environmental intelligence, and advanced manufacturing.
“What we’ve done is we’ve seen that the co-working model around the nation, actually internationally, has worked very well, and we’ve identified the competitive advantage of Colorado Springs,” says Shirley. “That’s Department of Defense, Cyber, Aerospace companies, and IT. It is a strength that Colorado Springs has to offer, and we really have a cluster of those types of companies here.”