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The Boulder Chamber View: Life Sciences Powerhouse — What It Takes

March 4, 2024

Originally published by Daily Camera on March 4, 2024. 

Boulder, Colorado, is not just a city of stunning landscapes and vibrant neighborhoods; it’s a thriving hub for innovation, and among the industries at the center is the robust and dynamic life sciences ecosystem.

From groundbreaking research to entrepreneurial startups, the life sciences sector has emerged as a key driver of new enterprise, fueling our economy and shaping the future of our community.

The Boulder Colorado Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has emerged as a hotbed of biotechnology industry growth, nurturing a burgeoning cluster of over 300 companies and nearly 8,000 professionals specializing in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical devices. These trailblazing enterprises, including KBI Biopharma, Corden Pharma, AGC, Pfizer and Medtronic, are at the forefront of tackling some of humanity’s most pressing health challenges.

So, what makes the Boulder region such a clear powerhouse in the bioscience sector?

First, the fundamental advantages are clear: Boulder boasts the nation’s most highly educated population, a fertile ground for recruiting and retaining top-tier talent. In addition, proximity to the University of Colorado Boulder and major research facilities positions the region as a leader in bioscience breakthroughs. Aside from these basic underlying advantages, though, there is a growing network of intentional investments and support efforts that catalyze our advantages into bioscience innovation and business success.

Ever heard of Flatiron Park? Well, if not, get ready for the showstopper! The developing Flatiron Park life science campus, managed in large part by BioMed Realty, stands as a testament to Boulder’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of life sciences innovation. Anticipated to be 50% life science or lab space, it will solidify Boulder’s role as a central hub for groundbreaking advancements.

The Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA) emerges as a further linchpin in the success of Colorado’s life sciences community. Their partnership with the Boulder Chamber capital recruitment, education, networking, policy advocacy and workforce cultivation efforts is fostering a collaborative ecosystem that propels global health innovations, products and services from concept to commercialization.

Hold onto your lab coats. With the University of Colorado Boulder as a cornerstone, the academic prowess in bioscience research has been fortified by the presence of BioFrontiers Institute — a unique interdisciplinary collaboration facility that fosters a culture of exploration and experimentation. They don’t just cultivate ideas; they incubate startups right there with their nifty on-site lab spaces that house both researchers and startup businesses.

But wait, there’s more! The Colorado Hub for Health Impact is a consortium committed to positioning Colorado as the epicenter for life sciences innovation in the United States. With over 20 leading organizations, including life sciences companies, economic development groups and local governments, this partnership embodies the spirit of collaboration and innovation. It’s not just a campaign; it’s a movement.

The momentum of Boulder’s bioscience industry is further propelled by strategic investments and initiatives geared toward research and development. The U.S. 36 Collaborative comprises cities and economic development organizations situated along the U.S. Highway 36 corridor, including Boulder, Broomfield, Lafayette, Louisville, Superior and Westminster. This collaborative is home to world-class research institutions, science and technology talent, and innovative life sciences projects. It provides information, assistance and resources to businesses interested in locating or expanding in the region.

Standing right at the epicenter of Boulder’s economic vitality is the Boulder Economic Council (BEC), the economic development arm of the Boulder Chamber. We ensure a thriving economic ecosystem through direct support of primary businesses and collaboration with industry partners. We’re also working to ensure all of the above entities and consortiums collaborate to drive bioscience innovation and business development across the Boulder region.

So, there you have it, folks — a life sciences narrative of Boulder. It’s not just about molecules and microscopes; it’s about innovation and collaboration. I am passionate about improving global health and boosting economic vitality in my new role as vice president of economic vitality and BEC executive director by making sure all components within our bioscience ecosystem have what they need to work together.