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Industrial design confab coming to Denver

Metropolitan State University of Denver is hosting the Industrial Designers Society of America's (IDSA's) West District Design Conference (WDDC) on April 1-2. This year's event, with a focus on Empathy Driven Solutions, will kick off, fittingly enough, with the Design Swarm honoring those slain in the terrorist attacks in Paris. Keynotes at the conference will include Michael Paterson, senior industrial designer with GoPro and Mike Neustedter, executive director of Paradox Sports. The conference helps designers and students learn about the latest trends in industrial design.

The Design Swarm will be kicked off by Jeff Smith, IDSA, of Autodesk, and Amber Goelst, of Wacom, who will share how to sketch a visual language and showing the importance of capturing rapid ideas on a screen. It will specifically honor U.S. industrial design student Nohemi Gonzalez who was slain in the Paris attack. "We should use this time to invest in each other; break down any barriers that impede on our ability to succeed; and be a part of something bigger then ourselves so we can give back," says WDDC Chair Jason Belaire.

The conference will focus on design, empathy and giving back. In terms of design it will focus on the need for design under pressure while connecting with people that others haven't met. Empathy will focus on using empathy as a research tool for industrial design planning. Giving back will focus on how design inspiration can come from unexpected sources.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Denver to host Solar Decathlon in 2017

Denver and the Department of Energy officials have announced that the city will host the international Solar Decathlon competition in 2017. The event will award a total of $2 million to the teams that compete in its 10 challenges to make a livable, affordable, compact solar-powered home -- essentially what each team believes will be the home of tomorrow.

Denver becomes the third U.S. city to host the biennial event, which began in Washington, D.C., and has since taken place in Irvine, California. It brings roughly 60,000 visitors on average. "As one of the top 10 metro areas for solar installations and sunny days, Denver is a great choice to host the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon,"says DOE Under Secretary Franklin Orr.

The decathlon challenges 16 teams of college students from the U.S. and around the world to design and build energy efficient, solar-powered homes that they have to transport from their location to the event location at Denver's Pena Station development. In 2017 for the first time ever, teams will receive $100,000 to defray construction and transportation costs and the teams that do the best in the gauntlet of events will receive extra awards. The team that takes first place will receive $300,000, second place gets $225,000 and third place takes $150,000.

"Denver is proud to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to bring this fun and engaging academic competition to our city," says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. "This opportunity not only highlights the Denver metro area's leadership in energy efficiency but allows us to spotlight our burgeoning solar energy industry."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


March shapes up as Denver's other big beer month

Almost half a year from the other big beer event in Denver, the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), March is shaping up to be just as important for Colorado's fermentation revolution.

Colorado Craft Beer Week begins with the one-of-a-kind Collaboration Fest on March 19 and pours through March 30 at Strange Craft Beer Co. with an auction and IPA Throwdown. In fact, for the purposes of innovative brewing and moving the local industry forward, March might even be more important to craft brewing than GABF.

Collaboration Fest, being held for the second year at the Broncos' stadium at Mile High, is probably the most innovative of all the events since it invites breweries from across the world to come together and create what are mostly one-off beers with their fellow brewers. In fact, last year it was dubbed "America's most creative beer fest" by Food & Wine Magazine.

It's an important event for the industry because it encourages brewers from all over the world to exchange notes and practices -- and of course plenty of beer. "We can guarantee one thing: the beers of Collaboration Fest are sure to be some of the most unique, delicious and limited offerings you've ever tasted," say festival organizers, which include the Colorado Brewers Guild, Visit Denver and Two Parts. "Per festival guidelines, one brewery must based in Colorado and a member of the Colorado Brewers Guild, while the collaborating partners could be located next door, across the state, across the country or even overseas."  

This year the fest will boast more than 85 projects from 149 brewers. While most participating breweries are in the U.S., the fest also is bringing international attention with five international breweries participating this year.

Beyond that Denver will serve as a hub for Craft Beer Week, with events happening throughout the state. While many are at breweries, others have unique locations -- like the Mighty Beer Run in Platt Park on March 26.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


ADvocate, a community for ad tech professionals, launches in Denver

Denver's Epiphany Ai has partnered with Innovation Pavilion and The Trade Desk to launch ADvocate, a new collaborative community focused on advertising technology and entrepreneurs. The new venture is aimed at cementing Colorado at the forefront of ad tech and addressing industry challenges today and tomorrow.

To help kick off the new venture Epiphany Ai is hosting a party at its headquarters in Denver on March 16. "We call out to other ad tech companies to join us on our quest of making Colorado the best ad tech [state] in the world," says Epiphany Ai CEO Joe Salvador. "We have the talent and the tech at our fingertips -- now it's time to work together to make it happen."

"We started ADvocate with Innovation Pavilion not only to focus on the current success and growth of the ad tech industry, but to help Colorado secure a position as an international leader in ad tech," Brian Allen, Epiphany Ai's chief technology officer asserts. "It's imperative that we educate the younger generation about this industry and what is required to be a successful ad tech professional. We believe the knowledge required for this emerging industry can only be passed on through an apprentice relationship -- learning alongside the industry professionals."

Already ADvocate is spawning new programs. ADprentice is aimed at helping to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in the ad tech space and is focused on students. In addition, The Trade Desk is launching the ADventure accelerator in collaboration with ADvocate. Touted as the first ad tech accelerator in the country, ADventure will help advance second-stage ad tech companies around the world.

"We are thrilled with the opportunity to share our experiences with Colorado ad tech community," said Mike Davis, VP of Innovation at The Trade Desk. Davis is a founding board member of ADvocate. "Collaboration and innovation are two major keys to The Trade Desk's success, and it's a privilege to be able to pay that forward to the next generation of ad tech leaders."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


SkillStore launches skills training app with free forever access for early users

Denver's SkillStore has launched its mobile app, which uses social-learning and interactive learning to help people learn and practice new skills. The app and site are focused on leadership, communications, and management skills, aimed at reducing the use of ineffective corporate training. To celebrate its launch SkillStore is offering popular free-forever modules for those who register for the service by March 31.

The company has worked with Western Union, SAP and Comcast of the past nine months to build its services and has now deployed it in more than 40 countries. "What separates SkillStore is that, unlike other online learning solutions that focus on providing content, SkillStore enables live video practice with peer feedback,” says Joshua Craver, vice president of Talent Management at Western Union. "People don't just watch videos and take quizzes -- they practice with each other through the app. Apart from being a more effective way to build critical skills, this helps Western Union managers in countries around the world feel more connected with each other -- as they learn together.”

Skillstore's learning methods are aimed at reducing wasted spending on corporate training for soft and leadership skills. The company refers to studies showing that roughly 80 percent of such training is currently wasted.

"Today's training methods -- both in-person and online -- have severe shortcomings," asserts Srikant Vasan, SkillStore cofounder and CEO. "SkillStore offers a better way -- built on solid learning science principles to enable active learning -- with live video practice and peer feedback."

The company's services are designed to be easy to use and to access. The app is accessible over the internet and on mobile devices.

SkillStore enables active, experiential learning through interactive video-based practice with peers to build leadership, communications, and management skills that is both effective and scalable. Users in over 40 countries access SkillStore from their laptops, smartphones, or tablets for a variety of soft skills training.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


At 40, Colorado Enterprise Fund shows no signs of slowing down

The Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this March and will commemorate the milestone with events throughout the year. The nonprofit organization, dedicated to supporting small businesses and startups, loaned more than $7.1 million to small businesses in 2015 alone.

"This organization brought much-needed economic development initially to Denver, and then to the rest of Colorado. It was an opportunity to help Colorado communities find and develop their economic strength," says CEO Ceyl Prinster. "Small business is big business in Colorado, and Colorado Enterprise Fund has been part of making small business growth possible."

The organization isn't stagnating. Already in 2016, it was selected as a finalist in Colorado Impact Days, Prinster will serve as a panelist at the Denver Business Journal's Small Business Awards conference and luncheon in April and it will be recognized at ColoradoBiz Magazine's Top 100 Women-Owned Companies Reception in June.

The organization offers loans of up to $500,000 to entrepreneurs and small companies that can't access other financing. "We lend more than just money," Prinster says. "We provide our borrowers with one-on-one business training and coaching to help them succeed. And when our borrowers succeed, our local communities grow and thrive."

To showcase what it's been up to, CEF launched its "40 Success Stories in 40 Weeks," a social media campaign, which will run through October. The campaign will post stories to Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media outlets about companies that it's helped out in the past.

In October, CEF will host a 40th Anniversary Gala to celebrate its legacy, which includes providing 1,800 loans totaling over $49 million for to support small business growth and startups. It's also been recognized as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Community/Rural Lender of the year in 2015, among other awards.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Go Code Colorado Challenge 2016 launches

The third annual Go Code Colorado events kicked off last week. The challenge tasks entrepreneurs, businesses and developers to use public data to solve business problems. Three finalists will be selected in May and each will receive $25,000.

The statewide event is housed in Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams' office, and billed as the first and only statewide effort of its kind. "Go Code Colorado continues to successfully bring together a community around data, technology and entrepreneurship," Williams says. "We want to make government data accessible to all Colorado citizens, and Go Code Colorado is the vehicle to move that vision forward."

This year the challenge is to "create an app and business concept that helps businesses build a competitive strategy." In previous years, the actual challenge wasn't announced until the challenge weekend.

They also changed the rules of the challenge this year to allow the participating teams to start working on their apps right after the initial kickoff. The organizers also announced that people interested in participating but without a team can check out CollabFinder to share information about their expertise and how they want to contribute. Over the next two months, Go Code Colorado will hold five events, four across the state and another in Denver before the final competition in May.

"When Colorado residents look back at what Go Code Colorado did for open data, it will carry the reputation as being  one of the most important government initiatives to the advancement of innovation through open data," says Erik Mitisek, CEO of the Colorado Technology Association.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


So Let's Roll app launches to help you find the local haps

It can be hard to know what's going on in a busy city like Denver that's where the new So Let's Roll app comes in. It's a Denver and Boulder-focused event aggregator app for iPads and iPhones that focuses on local and community-centric events.

The app shows unique events like an in-home culinary demo, an impromptu music performance, or a pop-up woodworking class, but the company says it won't cover arena-sized events or pro sporting events. Event hosts can publish their events on the app and through its site for free and people looking for something to do and check out local events on the go. They can create an account or log in through Facebook.

The app, developed by Paul Tamburello is more curated than most, keeping the quirky and distinctive in mind. "Our hope is that we can build an active community around the new and spontaneous," explains Tamburello. "So Let's Roll will collect the best happenings in the city so users can access those one-of-a-kind experiences."

"A city is so much more than just large corporate sponsored events, it's all the fine grain happenings that create a rich city culture. Denver is a great 'sports town' but we're so much more," Tamburello says. "Our goal is to amplify the diverse culture of our city through real-time access to the plethora of amazing happenings that create the heart of any city."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


General Assembly opening new tech training campus in RiNo

General Assembly is opening its 15th location in Denver. The institution will host a launch party on March 3 at its newest campus at Industry, located at 3001 Brighton Blvd. in RiNo.

General Assembly was founded in 2011 in New York City with a mission of empowering people to do what they love. It offers immersive programs, long-form courses, and classes and workshops. The programs focus on IT, web development and business fundamentals.

The company also offers ongoing training to develop talent internally. "With Denver and Boulder area startups flush with population and economic growth, larger companies are also investing in talent to remain competitive," a statement from General Assembly explains.

Since launching in the Big Apple, it's opened locations across the country and as far away as Australia.

To celebrate its newest location in Denver the institute is hosting an evening of drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and networking with the GA team and our amazing guests. “We'll also host an exciting panel discussion about today's fastest growing, most in-demand careers and how to break into them,” reads a statement on the company's website.

The panel will include Kelly Brough, CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Brady Welsh, director of Leasing & Development of Industry and Scott Kirkpatrick, president of General Assembly. According to General Assembly the panel will discuss how today's most in-demand skills and job opportunities will affect Denver's growth.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Name.com partners with Galvanize to offer free coding lessons

Galvanize and domain registrar Name.com are partnering to host free Learn to Code meetups across the country. The group will host its next coding study session at Denver's Central Library on Feb. 29 at 6:15 p.m.

"By partnering with large organizations like Name.com to host meetups, we're bringing industry experts and the Galvanize community of learners together under one roof to share valuable insights with each other," says Jim Deters, Galvanize CEO and co-founder. "We're excited to see more people from the coding community on Galvanize campuses in 2016 and beyond."

The Learn to Code events will include instruction on HTML/CSS, PostgreSQL, Javascript, Angular JS, and more. "We're excited to dive into local communities and teach others about website resources and new domains like .NINJA, .SOCIAL, and .NEWS," says Ashley Forker, marketing director at Name.com. "Domain names are powerful -- but underutilized -- tools. Now is the time to demonstrate that great domain names help drive the discovery of products, content, and brands across all platforms."

Beyond Denver, Galvanize's Learn to Code meetups are taking place in Boulder, Fort Collins, San Francisco and Seattle. They'll also launch in Austin in the spring.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Denver OED helped create and retain more than 7,000 jobs in 2015

The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) released its annual report showing it hand a hand in creating 4,164 new jobs and retaining 3,076 jobs in 2015.

"Denver's hardworking employers, employees and entrepreneurs enjoyed a year of recording-breaking progress on many economic fronts," says Mayor Michael Hancock. "Their tenacity, coupled with the city's efforts to sustain and grow a next-generation economy built on Denver's traditional strengths, has simultaneously attracted new ventures, new industries, and thousands of new residents." 

The jobs, as well as 628 affordable housing units, are proof of the effectiveness of the $304 million in strategic investments made last year. Those came in the form of incentives, tax credits, loans, and training assistance programs to help 89 firms expand in Denver in 2015.

Among the highlights were two incentive packages offered to major companies. One helped United Airlines consolidate its national flight training program to Stapleton. That will bring an additional 250 jobs to Denver while retaining roughly 400 positions. The other aided Costco's decision to open a business-services store in Denver. It will bring more than 100 sustaining wage jobs to the Athmar Park neighborhood.

Other major companies will continue to add jobs in Denver, according to the report. Just a handful will add thousands of jobs, they include FiveStars, KPMG, Comcast, Sunrun, Gusto, Transamerica, DaVita and Optiv.

"We've had an exciting run of new jobs from both startups and corporate locations, and at the same time posted major gains in the Mayor's ambitious 3x5 plan for affordable housing," asserts OED Executive Director Paul Washington. "It's critical that we continue to excel across a spectrum of public-investment strategies and tactics, so that the astounding growth momentum Denver has enjoyed can continue."

Denver's OED also took additional steps to help make the city more attractive for companies. Such steps include launching the Denver Manufacturing Map Tool and using OppSites to promote opportunities for companies. The manufacturing map details all manufacturing operations and support systems in Denver. OppSites also uses mapping and promotional data to showcase sites to developers, businesses and retailers across the U.S.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Aten Design Group sponsoring free events on Drupal, information architecture

Denver's Aten Design Group knows the importance of information architecture and understanding content management systems (CMSs). As such the company is hosting one of the World Information Architecture (IA) Day meetings on Feb. 20 and sponsoring a free Drupal 8 workshop on March 11.

The first event, the World IA seminar is being held at Aten's offices at 3507 Ringsby Ct., unit #111, in Denver. The Drupal 8 event is being hosted at Galvanize LoDo at 1644 Platte St. in Denver.

It's the first time Denver's hosted a World IA event and is one of more than 50 events taking place across the world on Feb. 20. The event is focused on the practice and education of information architecture. This year's focus is 'Information Everywhere, Architects Everywhere.' During the seminar, being held between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., industry experts will discuss the shape and future of IA and how people all over the world are using it.

Following that on March 11, the company is sponsoring a free micro-conference 8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Galvanize to help Drupal users learn more about the latest Drupal, Drupal 8. The widely used, highly customizable CMS system. The morning sessions will focus on major differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 and the afternoon sessions will practice putting some of the new tools into use..

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Commons on Champa to host CO Active meeting on international trade opportunities

Colorado is one of the most active if not the most active states in the U.S. With its sunny skies, mountains and rivers, it's no surprise that outdoor companies are located here, but getting those goods and wares into international markets can be difficult. To help address that, the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) and CO Active are hosting a seminar about international trade opportunities in the active lifestyle industry.

The one-hour seminar will be hosted at The Commons on Champa on Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. and will feature insights from Abdul Sesay, an international business development representative with OED. At OED, Sesay led the pilot of Denver's Export Promotion Program. Through his efforts he helped Denver Beer Company begin exporting to Japan.

The seminar will help companies and entrepreneurs identify exporting opportunities. It will help them understand what types of resources for exporting their products are available. It also will discuss trade missions and trade shows.

CO Active was launched with OED funding and support. It's one of Colorado's newest business associations and was launched to focus on networking, supply-chain support and to help expand market exposure for companies manufacturing in Colorado for the outdoor industry and active lifestyles that Coloradans enjoys.

Those interested in attending should RSVP Carrie Singer at carrie.singer@denvergov.org.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

DISH to hire 100 IT positions in LoDo

The Englewood-based company is expanding its entrance into the on-demand streaming world and tech solutions to meet consumers' needs. To support this work the company will hire up to 100 IT-focused employees at the Grand Central Building near Union Station. The new positions will support Sling TV and its Hopper DVR offering.

"DISH and Sling TV are driving a consumer market that is changing in real-time, and we're developing innovative ways to deliver video and connected services to millions of customers," explains Rob Dravenstott, DISH senior vice president and chief information officer. "From the heart of the thriving Denver tech community, this office will utilize collaborative software development models to expand our world-class IT group and play an integral role in creating next generation services."

"DISH has continued to invest in Colorado since its founding in 1980, employing more than 4,000 employees across the state today," says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "This step not only helps expand their presence, it gives another meaningful boost to Colorado's thriving tech community as we welcome a new neighbor in downtown Denver."

The company will renovate 20,000 square feet of the Grand Central Building at 1615 17th St. The building will be redesigned as an open work environment. It also will include a private technology demonstration space.

"It's very encouraging to see one of our area's key employers choosing to expand right within the heart of LoDo and our regional transit hub," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said. "We're proud to welcome them to Downtown Denver for their next stage of innovation and growth."

DISH already is recruiting for the facility. It anticipates that the office will be fully operational by June 2016. "DISH's selection of Downtown Denver as the location to expand its technology products and services perpetuates the brand of our strong culture of innovation and signals the economic vitality of the center city," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The hiring process is underway and interested applicants can learn more at DISHGrandCentral.com.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


Elevation Digital Media points Arrow the way to the future with Super Bowl spot

The Broncos aren't the only Denver team in the Super Bowl this weekend. Arrow Electronics and Elevation Digital Media are airing a national commercial during the third quarter in the Super Bowl touting the company's "Five Years Out" campaign for aerospace and defense.

The Super Bowl isn't just the most highly watched game in the U.S. -- it's also the Super Bowl for advertising the world over. After all, ads during the event are the most costly in the world. In August 2015, Fortune reported that a national 30-second spot during the event will cost as much as $5 million. But the cost of getting a company's message to consumers or other businesses during the event can be well worth it.

Arrow Electronics is a Colorado-headquartered multi-national company that specializes in distributing electronic components. It provides services and products to everything from defense and aerospace to enterprise-level computing services and electronics recycling.


The innovative ad features a features a 3D folder -- not printer -- made out of Legos that folds a piece of paper into a paper plane and launches it, like the campaign for the company.

"This is a team of five guys who work out of their small studio in the Taxi Building in RiNo -- not a multi-million-dollar ad agency -- producing a spot for a Fortune 100 company," says Edward Macsalka, a Denver-based communications manager with Comcast.

"Just five years ago, Elevation Digital Media was focused on sports recruiting videos for high school athletes," he adds. "Over the past few years, that has evolved into corporate communication videos/commercials for the likes of Comcast, Arrow and Western Union, as well as many other national brands. . . . This is a huge achievement for any large firm, but even more special for a company that can barely call their studio a studio."

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

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