Fitzsimons Innovation Community
Startups and industry leaders are paving the future in this remarkable medical and science facility.
Home to the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus and the Fitzsimons Innovation Community, Adams County is at the heart of the state’s booming bioscience industry.
The state’s bioscience sector, which includes everything from medical treatment and academic research to new pharmaceutical formulations and device technology, has surged in recent years, receiving more than $1.2 billion in venture capital investments in addition to $1.35 billion in NIH grants from 2014-17, according to the Colorado BioScience Association.
The Fitzsimons Innovation Community, located on the Anschutz campus, has played a crucial role in that growth, working in partnership with the research facility to foster new developments, innovation, and business growth in the sector, according to Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority President Steve VanNurden.
“There’s nothing in medicine that we can’t do on this campus,” says VanNurden, whose group has overseen redevelopment of the former Fitzsimons Army Base, which shuttered in 1999, paving the way for development of the 125-acre Fitzsimons Innovation Community.
Comprising 76 companies, the Aurora, Colo.-based campus represents the second-largest economic engine in Colorado behind Denver International Airport, employing more than 25,000 workers.
Designed to serve as an incubator and business accelerator for new and established ventures in the bioscience field, Fitzsimons combines public and private partnerships to deliver residences, schools, and retail space to accompany the neighboring bioscience facilities.
“That’s where this is such a unique place in the country, maybe the world,” VanNurden said. “In most other places, if you have an idea or you’re a researcher or you’re a clinician and you want to commercialize your technology or start a company, you have to go elsewhere to do that, but here you don’t.”
The idea is to make an inclusive pipeline for bioscience development from conceptualization to commercialization.
“There’s $525 million worth of research that goes on at the campus,” VanNurden says. “Some of that research turns into commercialization and so you can commercialize your technology right on the same campus. You don’t even move your car.”
While some of the companies within Fitzsimons spawned from Anschutz, the area is not exclusive to Anschutz-related ventures.
Notably, Sharklet Technologies, a company that produces bacteria-resistant material modeled after sharks’ skin, began as a research project in Florida, but quickly moved Aurora to take up space at Fitzsimons.
“That’s a company that has really grown (here),” notes VanNurden. “Starting with two people, then five and they continue to grow and develop here.”
In addition to its proximity and access to Anschutz Core research facility, Fitzsimons includes 97,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research and development, office, and laboratory space and is poised for future growth. Currently home to two bioscience buildings and the Gates Biomanufacturing Facility, Fitzsimons Innovation Community will open a third bioscience building in December 2019.
In the works are a parking structure, two STEM schools, 245 apartments. and a hotel, with plans to provide companies even more incentive to stay. VanNurden reflected on the future of the campus, “We’re just at that stage now where we’re starting to see these companies with the potential to grow and grow fairly dramatically, but we’re right at that stage. We think we’re at a tipping point now. We’re planning for some of these companies to be very successful and we want to keep them on this campus.”