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Delta Dental leases space at Catalyst HTI

Delta Dental of Colorado is the latest healthcare company to announce it will locate at the Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation (HTI) development in Denver’s River North district.

Delta Dental will lease 2,000 square feet on the second floor of the building. The nonprofit dental insurer plans to use the space as a center for collaboration and innovation, working alongside startups and larger companies within Catalyst HTI and inviting in entrepreneurs to develop and test new concepts.

“The oral healthcare industry is seeing the development of exciting new, innovative technologies that have the potential to significantly, if not dramatically, improve patient outcomes and care,” says Helen Drexler, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado. “As the state’s leading dental benefits provider, it is imperative that we’re at the forefront of these efforts and on the leading edge of developing the future or oral healthcare.”

Catalyst HTI is an “industry integrator” bringing together a full spectrum of stakeholders in healthcare. Startups will have access to potential clients and investors in established companies. The project is being jointly developed by Koelbel and Company and health-tech entrepreneur Mike Biselli and the landowners.

Delta Dental joins a growing number of health-tech startups and healthcare organizations, including Hitachi, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Kaiser Permanente, American Diabetes Association, Prime Health and Medical Group Management.

“Delta Dental broadens the conversations within Catalyst HTI in important ways and expands the community’s opportunities,” Biselli says. “Delta Dental is a perfect fit for this ecosystem, both as a leading voice on the importantce of oral health and as a health and wellness company with an intense focus on innovation.”
 

Prime Health challenges entrepreneurs to innovate patient care, offers $150k in awards

The Prime Health Challenge is on for 2017. This year the Colorado Health Foundation is offering a total of $150,000 to early growth stage digital health and health tech entrepreneurs whose aim is to improving healthcare outcomes while reducing patient costs. The awards will help fund a pilot study with a Colorado healthcare company. It’s the fourth annual Prime Health Challenge. 

The Prime Health Challenge, which is open to companies nationwide, will help winners pilot their products or solutions with Colorado-based health care providers, payers or safety net institutions. After submitting their idea through the Valid Eval platform, subject matter experts will evaluate each proposal on its merits. The experts will provide feedback and will select a group of applicants to move forward in the challenge. 

The selected group will pitch their products at a Shark Tank-style event on Oct. 19. The winners chosen at the event will each receive a portion of the $150,000 from the Colorado Health Foundation to help launch their pilots.

The challenge explains that interested companies must be launch-ready for a pilot. Companies can apply to the challenge through July 7 by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2017PHChallengeApps and paying a $99 application fee. 

Denver launches business accelerator for healthy foods in underserved neighborhoods

The Denver Office of Economic Development has partnered with The Unreasonable Institute to launch the Food Access Project  in underserved neighborhoods. The accelerator is offering a training and mentorship program to support 10 ventures to improve access to food in select low-income communities in Denver. 

“It’s exciting to be able to bring the city’s resources together with the ingenuity of entrepreneurs,” says Teju Ravilochan, CEO of The Unreasonable Institute. “This partnership combines the innovation of nimble startups with the systems-shifting capabilities of the city government, creating the potential to really make a lot of people’s lives better.” 

The program is focused on reducing food insecurity in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Westwood, Northeast Park Hill, Five Points, and other neighborhoods. Early stage ventures can apply to the Food Access Project through June 25.

“This is part of our proactive approach to building healthier communities throughout the city,” explains Amy Edinger, OED interim executive director. “By targeting entrepreneurs, small businesses and nonprofits, we recognize that Denver has a broad talent pool of individuals that, with a little support and key introductions, can make a lasting difference in addressing food insecurity.”

The program will provide each of the participants with a five-day in-person bootcamp. The effort will also provide six months of support from mentors, financial modeling training from Unreasonable Financial Architects, access to investors, and a network of over 530 Unreasonable Institute ventures across the world.
 

With more than 1,000 proposals in Denver Startup Week is ready for your votes

The nation’s largest free entrepreneurial event—Denver Startup Week—received a record 1,039 session proposals this year. That’s up from 944 proposals submitted last year. Now it’s up to the public to help organizers choose which sessions should be held—last year the event hosted more than 300 programs. 

“Our entrepreneurial community is the envy of cities across the country,” says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership. “We now have nearly 700 tech startups in Downtown, employing close to 5,000 people. Companies large and small are coming to Denver to positively impact our economy and help grow our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“We continue to be impressed with not only the volume, but the quality of proposals submitted and now it’s up to the entire entrepreneurial community to help tell us what programs they find the most interesting and valuable,” says Ben Deda, vice president of channels and ecosystems at Vertafore and co-leader of the event’s organizing committee.

The organizers will accept votes for Denver Startup Week through May 28, 2017. The event's organizing committee will sift through the results and determine which proposals will become sessions during the sixth annual startup week from Sept. 25-29.

In addition to the five tracks of Denver Startup Week—Founder, Growth, Maker, Product, Designer, and Developer—this year’s schedule also will include topic and industry clusters focused social impact, the Internet of things, health care technology, diversity and inclusion, cannabis and business basics. 

“When more than 1,000 people step up to share their insight and knowledge with others, it signals that Downtown Denver continues to be one of the best places in the country to start and grow a business,” said Erik Mitisek, executive director of Project X-ITE at the University of Denver and co-founder of Denver Startup Week.

To help people wade through the potential sessions and vote, organizers recommended that voters search for trends, themes and topics that interest them. They can also sort session proposals by cluster and organize sessions by their favorite track. Site users can vote on each session once.

Colorado Harvest Company introduces Operation TransparenC

Colorado Harvest Company is introducing Operation TransparenC, an effort to show its growing processes in great detail to consumers and other industry members. In doing so, the company is aiming to show consumers how legal cannabis growers are distinguishing themselves from black market growers. The company is posting information about the purity and potency cannabis available from its three Colorado Harvest centers.

"Colorado Harvest Company is leading the way on  TransparenC, but our hope is that other companies follow suit," says CEO Tim Cullen. "I would welcome any partnership that has the same goals in mind." 

The company announced the new program last week after the the Colorado Department of Agriculture showed the purity of Colorado Harvest’s cannabis for the second consecutive year. The department tested hundreds of the company’s samples between November 2016 and January 2017. 

"We are constantly working toward ways to be different while providing a high quality experience for our customers," Cullen says. "There are two ways to look at regulation. One, it's a great opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from the black market and shine for our customers; or two, the regulation becomes the focus and not the customer. We have to keep our eye on the ball while we comply with ever increasing demands from regulatory bodies." 

Cullen has begun speaking with 22 officials from state agriculture departments as far away as Florida and Guam. He also is presenting information about profitable and compliant production methods at two upcoming cannabis conferences.

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

CDOT's $500K RoadX challenge open through February

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched the RoadX Bicycle and Pedestrian Challenge in 2016 to develop better systems to help those on foot and bicycles travel more safely. The RoadX challenge is open to proposals through Feb. 27. 

The challenge is made through a partnership with the Colorado Innovation Network's Imagine Colorado. The department said it is the nation's first statewide open innovation challenge platform to generate new ideas. In this case, the platform is taking on the issue of pedestrian and cyclist safety. 

Department officials hold that technological solutions to pedestrian and cycling safety can save lives. Studies have found that pedestrian crashes represent 10 percent of all fatalities and 7 percent serious injuries in Colorado. Bicycle crashes represent another 2 percent of all fatalities and 4 percent of all serious injuries in Colorado. 

The department will award $50,000 to the best ideas to help put them into action and the rest of the funds will support bringing concepts into reality, according to advocacy organization Bicycle Colorado. It will divide the awards into two tracks, the "Idea-thon" and the "Do-athon."

Under the first track up to five winners will each receive $10,000 for submitting a groundbreaking technological idea to improve bicycling and pedestrian safety. Under the second track, innovators can submit a unique and implementable idea that they must deploy within eight months of being selected as a finalist on March 31, 2017.

CDOT will select up to five finalists to build a proof of concept and will support each with $75,000 to help them launch the pilot. Of those, the one that implements the best program in the time period will receive $150,000 to continue it. The runner-up will receive $50,000 and the third runner-up will receive $25,000 to further develop their safety deployments. 

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

Grad students help design a more walkable Montbello

WalkDenver, in its latest partnership with CU Denver graduate students, is tackling walkability issues in northeast Denver’s Montbello neighborhood. 

Bordered by major streets including 56th Avenue, Peoria Street, Chambers Road and I-70 the neighborhood struggles with ensuring its pedestrians, including the children who make up about 40 percent of residents in the area, have access to safe walking routes.

WalkDenver reports that more than 90 percent of students at McGlone Academy and Maxwell Elementary -- part of its 10 school Safe Routes to School Travel Plan project -- live within a mile of their respective campuses and don’t have school buses, meaning that children in the area walk, bike or are driven to school. In making the assessments, the CU Denver students performed on-site audits, researched demographic data interviewed local residents and used the WALKscope tool.

The CU Denver students and their assistant professor, Ken Schroeppel, presented their findings to community members. They found a number of ways to help make Montbello a safer place for pedestrians. They recommended upgrading sidewalks to current wider standards throughout the neighborhood and identified a lack of safe crossings on the wide roads throughout the neighborhood. Other factors that reduce walkability in the neighborhood include poorly maintained sidewalks, high speed limits and a dearth of shade trees. The students recommended improving sidewalks, crossings and bicycle lanes close to schools, parks, recreation centers and libraries.

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

 

Denver-area startups win $15K in national Calvert Foundation competition

It was a Denver-area sweep for the 2016 Calvert Foundation Small Business Competition, with three local businesses winning the top three prizes in the national competition.

Outdoor adventure and clothing store Feral Mountain Company, took the top prize, $10,000. Denver's Pearl Wine Company took second, winning $3,000 and Golden-based rock and ice-climbing service Golden Mountain Guides, took third, winning $2,000.

"We are very proud of all our borrowers who participated in this competition and heartily congratulate those who won," says Ceyl Prinster, CEO of Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), which supported each of the winners. "Starting a business can be cash-intensive, so when our borrowers are able to access additional funding that can help them grow to the next level, we are all for it."

It was the first time the Calvert Foundation held the competition, which was open to small businesses that received financing from nonprofit lenders like CEF. The goals of the contest, sponsored by the Calvert Foundation, were to promote small businesses with ties to the local community, enhancing business operations and educating people on investing in the local community and businesses that create local jobs. The contest also was aimed at generating awareness of the Calvert Foundation's Community Investment Note, which supports investments in small businesses. 

"We had over 5,000 votes -- way more than we expected," says Senior Officer of Investor Relations at the Calvert Foundation Katherine St. Onge. "We are so thrilled that the participants were able to showcase the value of small businesses to so many people!"

The Maryland-based Calvert Foundation launched the Ours To Own (OTO) Denver campaign in 2014. That effort is designed to channel capital towards community development efforts in Denver.

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

Access Gallery launches 2017 with "Stick 'em up Chuck"

Access Gallery in the Art District on Santa Fe is aimed at helping those with disabilities experience art, including by making art. Its latest gallery show, "Stick 'em up Chuck," which opens Jan. 6 and runs through Feb. 3, is a prime example of accessible art by using stickers as the medium.

The works were inspired street artists and Gonkar Gyatso, a contemporary Tibetan artist, whose work uses both Buddhist iconography and pop images like colorful children's stickers.

"We wanted to see what we could really do with everyday objects that need little if any artistic talent," explains Access Gallery Director Damon McLeese. "We have a smiley face piece made of 10,000 smiley face stickers, a huge teddy bear, a fish and a car based on one of our ArtWorks artist drawings."

The exhibit is the culmination of the VSA Colorado and Access Gallery's fall residency programs in which the participants explored mediums that are highly accessible materials for those with significant physical and mental disabilities. They focused on materials that are inexpensive, easily transported and workable as well as sticky, tacky and tactile. Stickers, they found, met those needs.

"One of our volunteers hooked us up with a bevy of stickers and we decided to make an entire gallery show made of stickers," McLeese says. Longmont, Colorado-based StickerGiant provided the bulk of raw materials for the show.

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

CU Denver relaunches Nobel at Noon Series

Nobel at Noon has returned to CU Denver. It's a lunch-and-learn series of discussions open to the public about each of the Nobel prize categories and the ideas that win them. The discussions began on Friday Oct. 28 and are occurring every Friday at noon through Dec. 9 at the CU Denver Welcome Center in Admissions at the Student Commons Building.

CU Denver previously hosted the Nobel at Noon series most years from the mid-1980s to 2008. Previously it was for students staff and faculty, but the university is now inviting the public to join. 

"The series focuses on the Nobel Prize winners who were announced this fall and what the award-winning research means for society," says Emily Williams, a CU Denver spokesperson. She adds, "This Friday’s talk is about the prize winner in Medicine. The winner this year was Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won for a discovery he made about how cells stay healthy, which is critical in cancer research. Dr. Chris Phiel is the CU Denver faculty member giving the talk this week and he is amazing! In his lab, students also study cell behavior, so he should give a great presentation."

"We're really trying to involve the local community, particularly people who work downtown in this series," Williams says. "One of Chancellor Dorothy Horrell's key priorities is to make CU Denver a place where the downtown community can engage with our faculty and their research and we're very excited about this series."
 
During the series, CU Denver faculty will discuss the meaning, details and importance of each Nobel Prize in an informal presentation and discussion format. The presenters will explain the history behind each prize, its importance and help the audience gain a more practical understanding as to why the award matters.

The remaining events include:
 
  • Nov. 4: Nobel Prize in Medicine with Dr. Chris Phiel
  • Nov. 11: Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with Dr. Phil Luck
  • Nov. 18: Nobel Prize in Peace with Dr. Manuel Espinoza 
  • Dec. 2: Nobel Prize in Literature with Dr. Sam McGuire
  • Dec. 9: Nobel Prize in Physics with Dr. Martin Huber
Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Bold Betties earns place among "Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America"

Denver startup Bold Betties, which outfits women for adventure as well as coordinates trips and activities, has been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the "Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America" in its Entrepreneur 360 List.

"Our annual evaluation offers a 360-degree analysis of the current private-business landscape," explains Lisa Murray, chief insights officer of Entrepreneur Media. "Top performers are determined by how well-rounded they are in these four key operative areas. Entrepreneurship is a complex endeavor -- this listing recognizes those who have mastered the challenge and are thriving this year."

The Entrepreneur 360 List recognized Bold Betties as a well-rounded company that it said has mastered a balance of impact, innovation, growth and leadership. Indeed, since Bold Betties launched in 2014 it has grown to a community of about 18,000 women in Colorado and California. To meet the challenges of the explosive growth it also recently launched a new California chapter in San Francisco. The company also plans to expand into Oregon, North Carolina, Minnesota in 2016 and more markets in 2017, says co-founder Arezou Zarafshan.

To deal with the expansion, the company plans on adding positions in Denver, Zarafshan explains. "Our projections show that we would be adding positions in content marketing, community management and social marketing. In terms of exact count, that is yet to be determined but we expect to be at around 10 people by 2018." 

"We are so honored to be recognized by Entrepreneur for our accomplishments," says Niki Koubourlis, CEO and founder of Bold Betties. "We put our whole hearts into our work at Bold Betties and are so proud of the work we are doing to help women get outside of their comfort zones and connect with each other and the outdoors."

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


Cannabliss adds CBD-infused oils to massage

How can a massage get more relaxing and relieve more pain? Add Cannabliss, a new partnership between CAUSE+MEDIC and Peace of Mind Massage.

The spa and the skincare company partnered to offer clients a unique service that uses oils infused with cannabidiol (CBD) to help lessen inflammation in muscles.

"Peace of Mind Massage has been a fantastic partner to work with in the development of this new formula within our Cannabliss line," says Jamie Turner, co-founder and owner of CAUSE+MEDIC. "We have been interested in creating a massage-specific line for quite some time and Peace of Mind Massage . . . was the perfect match for the creation of the Peace of Mind/Cannabliss body oil and body butter."

The active ingredient in the new oils and body butters comes from cannabis. However, the cannabis industry is now able to separate CBD from tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient known as THC in marijuana. CAUSE+MEDIC says though the CBD has restorative properties it does not cause a high and such products are legal throughout the U.S.

"CBD massage can provide relief from chronic pain, muscle soreness and tension, symptoms associated with arthritis and autoimmune dysfunction, psoriasis, chronic dry skin and so much more," says Elena Davis, owner of Peace of Mind Massage at 1249 S. Pearl St. "We are thrilled to be able to offer our new Cannabliss massage to our clients as a safe, therapeutic treatment that anyone can enjoy." 

The Cannabliss massage is currently available by appointment only and is offered at Peace of Mind Massage's regular rates, which start at $78 per hour. In addition, Peace of Mind customers can purchase Cannabliss Body Butter at $40 or Cannabliss Body Oil at $60 exclusively at Peace of Mind Massage.

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

DUGood is the University of Denver's new crowdfunding platform

The Pioneers are forging ahead with a new crowdfunding tool to finance projects on the University of Denver campus. To help faculty, students and staff develop impactful projects, the school recently launched its new DUGood site.

Crowdfunding has helped many small businesses get their feet on the ground or get their first order completed. In this case, however, the university is making sure that the projects created and are committed to improving the campus and the services it offers. 

One of the first projects on the site is an effort to create a Student Emergency Fund. The fund will provide support to university students facing emergency situations from the need for textbooks to the need for emergency travel. Another project aims to support the Daniels Student & Refugee Partnership to mentor resettled refugees through the African
Community Center.

While only staff, students and faculty can propose a project, anyone can donate any amount they please to support the projects of their choice. What's more, even if a project isn't fully funded the project organizers will receive what they raised through the DUGood platform within 60 days of a campaign closing.

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

Denver Startup Week breaks record with 12,500 attendees

The 2016 installment of Denver Startup Week again broke records, with 12,500 people registering for the more than 300 events, drawing celebrities and entrepreneurial rock stars. For the first time, the nation's largest free startup event also hosted a pitch fest, awarding a package worth $35,000.

It was another significant year of growth for the event, with nearly 2,000 more attendees and about 70 more events than 2015.

"We convene community better than anywhere in the country, and Denver Startup Week is an excellent representation of our thriving and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem," says Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership and co-founder of Denver Startup Week. "Our strength in numbers grows our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship and further establishes a powerful platform in Downtown Denver to attract the most innovative companies and investors in the world."

Other than panels with celebrities like Under Armor co-founder Ryan Wood, a former Dallas Cowboys fullback and owner of Steamboat Springs' Sweetwood Cattle Co., and Silicon Valley regular Suzanne Cryer, the most anticipated event was likely the Pitch Challenge, which had awarded a package of cash and mentorship worth $35,000.

The competition was winnowed down to eight finalists who made their pitches to an audience of their peers and a panel of judges. The three finalists were Orderly Health, edn and Sidekick Holdings. The winner, Sidekick Holdings, makes a device that simulates soccer training with a partner. Orderly Health, the third runner-up, helps users get on-demand information about healthcare via text messages. The second runner-up was edn, a Techstars company that  introduced an indoor garden for herbs, vegetables and flowers.

The event also saw new funding for startup-focused nonprofits. JPMorgan Chase granted $60,000 to each of four nonprofits including the Commons on Champa, Accion, Mi Casa Resource Center and the Path to Entrepreneurship Program.

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

Rose Community Foundation awarding Innovate for Good grants

The Rose Community Foundation will host an event at the Cable Center on Sept. 14 to award grants through its Innovate for Good program, which is supporting youth projects and youth-adult projects with a total of $250,000. The program announced the nine finalists for the youth-adult partnerships this week and will choose the six awardees, each of which will receive $30,000 to realize their projects, at the event.

The organization already selected four youth-led projects to each receive a $5,000 grant and support to realize their projects. The youth awards will support the CeC Early College Mentorship Program, which will mentor-match high school junior students with high-school freshmen; the Juniors for Seniors project to build one-on-one relationships with teen volunteers and nursing home residents; the Stories Worth Saving project for teens to document stories of assisted-living residents; and the Theatre for Social Change Group project which aims to offer teens ways to use the arts to explore difficult social issues. 

For 2016, the second year for the awards, the foundation asked youth and youth partnering with adults to develop projects that answer the question: "What idea could you bring to life to empower youth to make the community better?"

Last year's awards challenge didn't have a thematic focus, according to Sarah Indyk, Rose Community Foundation's director of special projects. This year it was separated into two different pathways, with the youth awards and the youth-adult awards. "The youth-led projects were really conceived of by youths without formal adult partners," she explains. She adds that since the adult-youth partnership projects are a lot different it made sense to go through a parallel process; the Sept. 14 event will decide which youth-adult projects will be funded.

“Both groups will benefit from extensive training coaching and support from the Youth Leadership Institute,” Indyk says. "We're running a full incubator providing support to all awardees and finalists. It's a way we could support all the finalists even if they don't receive funds. That amounts to $50,000 in additional support."

Visit rcfdenver.org/IFG to learn more about the program and finalists.

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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