- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014

DENVER (AP) - A nonprofit organization that provides office space and financial advice is having a lot of success helping small businesses get up and running in Colorado.

Officials in Loveland, Fort Collins and Golden, along with four local banks and Colorado State University, are backing the company incubator called Innosphere (IHN’-oh-sfeer).

About 90 percent of Innosphere’s companies survive at least five years. The U.S. Department of Commerce says about 40 percent of the estimated 1 million people who start businesses fail in the first year.

Managers say the odds are improved at Innosphere, a business with offices in Fort Collins and Golden, because it’s more selective. In 2013, it chose 14 startups from 125 applicants.

Sprinkler-control maker Rachio and anesthetic developer St. Renatus are both graduates of Rocky Mountain Innosphere that are thriving.

Rachio is close to shipping a computer-based sprinkler control system, while Fort Collins-based St. Renatus has completed its clinical trials, clearing the way for dentists to use a new drug.

There are 1,250 such incubators in the U.S., according to the National Business Incubator Association. The five-year average survival rate for incubator companies is between 68 percent and 80 percent, the Denver Post reported Friday (https://tinyurl.com/m87wkap).

“The efficiency varies widely,” said Louis Tornatzky, a professor at California Polytechnic State University. “If they are executed well, they work.”

St. Renatus started with a “eureka moment” when Fort Collins dentist Mark Kollar, 57, was having his broken nose fixed.

“To remove the stents, the doctor sprayed an anesthetic up my nose and my teeth got numb,” Kollar said. “I asked if that always happened, and he said yes, but not to worry.”

Rather than worry, Kollar spent more than a year poring over anesthesiology and neurology research to try to figure out how to use that numbing agent as a dental anesthetic.

Since then, St. Renatus, named after the patron saint of anesthesia, has attracted $40 million in private investment, Kollar said.

Meanwhile, Rachio is on the fast track to market.

Company co-founder Matt Reisman and Chris Klein hit upon the idea of using Internet computing to control outdoor water use at home.

The fruit of their idea is Iro, an irrigation controller that links a home’s Wi-Fi network to its sprinklers and takes computing into the garden.

Unlike the “egg timer” controllers that just turn the sprinklers on and off, Iro can account for everything from the slope of the yard to the weather, Reisman said.

After plugging in some basic information about the yard and vegetation, the controller calculates how much water to sprinkle based on the weather, historical data and yard conditions.


Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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