|CAMT Meeting Discusses Commercialization of Technology
Loveland - March 31, 2011
The Colorado Association of Manufacturing & Technology (CAMT) organized the ACE Executive Exchange at the University of
Denver’s Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management to a packed house yesterday.
Representatives of CAMT, as well as NASA, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and others were on hand to
make presentations & answer questions. Presentations focused on applying NASA’s and NREL’s intellectual property to
commercial applications, particularly in the area of clean energy. The audience of approximately 150 people were clearly
engaged and hopeful that this could be the catalyst to create innovative new products and companies, along with the economic
growth and jobs that implies.
Discussions covered a wide variety of topics related to unmet market opportunities, potential new technologies, and the desire of
these government entities to speed commercialization of their substantial library of patents. One official noted that the U.S. Patent
Office had an enormous backlog, and this was a significant impediment and delay, but also highlighted an expedited process for
patents related to renewable energy that can shorten the time to market considerably. At one point, a representative of NREL
stated flatly, “NREL is open for business.”
The tone of the audience was clearly optimistic and supportive, but not everyone suspended their disbelief. During one question
and answer period, an audience member related a Dilbert cartoon that mocked alternative energy solutions ever being viable as a
primer to his question. After muffled laughter, his question, “what can NREL do to vet the true viability of ‘cleantech’ solutions?”
was met with a serious and wide ranging answer that seemed to satisfy the questioner.
Though presentations focused on broader topics, officials of NASA and NREL went into greater detail to answer questions from
the field, of which there were many. They clearly want commercialization to move forward more quickly and highlighted various
resources to aid the process. Some representatives of commerce and government in Loveland who attended the event told
LovelandPolitics they were hoping for a surprise announcement of Loveland being selected for the ACE Park but were not
surprised when no announcement was made.
Government funded business incubators became popular in the early 1980's when small and entrepreneurial firms were believed
to be the key to technology innovation. Many of those early incubators failed and the efforts by the federal government and
states largely abandoned until a resurgence in the early 1990's. Subsequent studies of those that failed pointed to lack of proper
capital, inexperienced management teams and misunderstanding of commercial value of certain technologies were cited as the top
three reasons for those failures.
Loveland officials have insisted the currently proposed ACE Park is not an incubator but will draw existing companies instead os
start-ups. CAMT has indicated to the city they believe 12 member companies will be willing to move once the park is
established. Timing depends on current commercial leases and whether or not those companies can negotiate early terminations
which may be difficult in the current economic downturn. Whether the City of Loveland or the property owner/developer will be
allowed to lease to other non-CAMT related tenants is still a matter of negotiation if the city is selected and after a developer is
chosen for the negotiation.
|Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality
Management in Denver