Technology, Innovation, and Growth in Colorado

Innovation Indicators

Patents Issued in Colorado
Small Business Innovation Research Awards

Patents Issued in Colorado


The number of patents issued is one indicator of the amount of innovation in the state. The fact that an invention was patented also suggests that the intellectual property had a perceived value in the commercial arena.


Colorado Performance

Nationally, the number of patents issued to U.S. residents has been steadily increasing since 1990, with a sharp increase in 1998. Patent issuance in Colorado has exceeded the national level since the mid-eighties.

A total of 11,551 patents were issued to Colorado residents during the 10 year period 1989-1998, with 1,916 patents issued in 1998 alone.

In 1998, Colorado received about 2% of patents issued to U.S. residents and ranked 14th among states. In comparison to Colorado's 1,916 patents, California residents received 17,831.

SOURCE: Department of Commerce, U.S. Patents and Trademark Office.

Colorado Small Business Innovation Research Awards


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) programs provide a source of funding for small businesses to support the research and development of innovation leading to commercial products. An important purpose of these programs is to stimulate development and commercialization of new products. These competitive national awards fund early technical feasibility in Phase I and up to two years of prototype development in Phase II. The upward trend in SBIR/STTR awards provides one indication of the level of scientific innovation by Colorado entrepreneurs.

Colorado Performance

The number of awards received by Colorado companies participating in the SBIR/STTR programs has been increasing since 1995. Seventy-six Colorado companies obtained a total of 156 new Phase I awards from SBIR and STTR in 1997. Colorado firms received 146 Phase I SBIR awards from a national total of 3322, ranking fifth in the nation.


Colorado firms performed almost as well in the competition for STTR awards that require companies to partner with university, nonprofit research institutions, or contractor operated federal laboratories.

 In 1997 Colorado firms received 10 STTR Phase I awards out of 260 total nationally, ranking seventh among the states.

SBIR Economic Impact

In 1997 Phase I awards financed $12,910,000 in high-risk, early-stage research for Colorado firms. The real measurement of the economic potential is the degree to which this early research proves worthy of continuing development. In this same year, companies won 54 Phase II SBIR awards and 1 Phase II STTR award to continue successful Phase I projects from prior years. This provided $33,193,000 in capital investment for continuing research.

Research in Colorado funded by SBIR/STTR relates directly to the state's high technology industries with projects focused on advanced biomedical, electronic, learning and assistive technologies, optics/photonics, liquid crystal applications, spacecraft power and guidance systems, medical equipment, remote sensing, software, miniature displays, robotics and many others.



Following Phase II prototype development, companies still face the challenge of securing the financial backing to develop commercially viable products or components, establishing production and marketing capability to launch a new product, or establishing a viable commercial venture. A study by the General Accounting Office found that 35% of the 2,090 Phase II awards made from 1984 through 1987 had resulted in sales of products or processes." In order to further improve this record, "in the 1992 reauthorization of the SBIR program, Congress included language to encourage the review of the commercialization rates of companies receiving more than 15 SBIR Phase II awards in the previous five fiscal years." 1


 1 "State and Federal Perspectives on the SBIR Program," U.S. Innovation Partnership SBIR Task Force, March 1999, Executive Summary, page 6.