Category: Technology

Boulder-based SAS Manufacturing opens plant in Englewood

BOULDER — SAS Manufacturing LLC, a 10-year-old Boulder-based manufacturing company that serves aerospace and other industries, has opened a facility in Englewood equipped with 3-D printers and automated milling machines.

SAS Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Special Aerospace Services LLC, bought the 12,500-square-foot building at 3737 S. Inca St. in 2015 from C&C Manufacturing, a nearly half-century-old business, and began upgrading the equipment and processes to meet the standards of clients in aerospace, aviation, energy, defense and the U.S. government.

The facility soon will offer clients a 24/7 online platform to view the status of manufacturing projects in real time, company officials said.

“Advanced manufacturing in the 21st century requires integrating the latest automated equipment into a production process that is open and transparent to the client,” said Heather Bulk, president and chief executive of SAS Manufacturing. “Our platform interface will give clients instant access to job status, material tracing and supplier certification data at every step of the process.”

The company in August is expecting delivery of a monoBLOCK 5-axis milling machine from DMG MORI, which it describes as “one of the most precise computerized numerical-control metal-fabrication devices in the world.” Subtractive metal milling remains an essential manufacturing process in aerospace and other sectors where source material traceability is critical.

By late summer, SAS Manufacturing expects to be able to handle projects related to rapid prototyping and 3-D printing, design and precision machining, assembly and component testing at the facility.

“The SAS team can take a client’s concept from design and prototyping to testing and production in a few weeks,” Bulk said. “That same process used to take months with a third-party manufacturing shop involved.”

Special Aerospace Services LLC has offices at 3005 30th St. in Boulder, and its engineers work onsite with clients. It and its subsidiary employ about 60 people.

Bour leaving Innovation Center of the Rockies

BOULDER — Tim Bour is leaving his job as executive director of the Innovation Center of the Rockies, a nonprofit entrepreneurial support organization in Boulder, to become a director for 4iNNO LLC in Cincinnati where he will help science and technology companies grow.

Bour will start his new job July 5.

Tim Bour

Tim Bour

“I thought this was a good opportunity,” Bour said. “I’ll be working in a consulting role, combining some of the things I did at the Innovation Center with 4iNNO’s concepts of open innovation and lean startup methodology.”

4iNNO works with Fortune 100 companies and helps clients bring in new ideas from the outside to boost their revenue. 4iNNO also has offices in New York City, San Francisco, Princeton, N.J., and London.

Bour had been with the Innovation Center of the Rockies since September 2007. Early on during his tenure at the center, Bour focused on the commercialization of university inventions. Starting as a commercialization partner of the University of Colorado Technology Transfer Office in September 2007, he developed similar relationships with the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, the University of Denver and most recently the University of Wyoming. The Innovation Center under Bour’s leadership later developed programs for early stage companies in a variety of industries such as natural and organic, software, renewable and sustainable energy, bioscience, nanotechnology and aerospace.

Bob Gill, chairman of the Innovation Center’s board of directors, said an interim director will be chosen from the existing staff, and the board will begin a national search for Bour’s replacement.

Boulder-based 10-4 Systems lands $13.9M funding round

BOULDER — 10-4 Systems Inc., a Boulder-based provider of supply-chain technology for freight carriers, brokers and shippers, has raised $13.9 million of series A financing led by GlobalTranz’s co-founder Andrew Leto.

Along with the funding, 10-4 Systems has completed a spinoff from Arizona-based GlobalTranz, allowing 10-4 Systems to focus on product development and customer acquisition.

Founded in 2012 within GlobalTranz, 10-4 Systems has developed software and an integration process to improve visibility and communication in the freight-transportation industry.

“This is an important milestone for 10-4, and one that we’ve been working diligently to execute for quite some time,” said Travis Rhyan, 10-4 Systems’ president and chief executive. “We appreciate the contribution from our former parent company and look forward to the next chapter in our organization’s evolution. We’ve secured significant investment that will continue to fuel our growth, expansion, and innovation for years to come.”

10-4 Systems’ Freight Portal software and integration provides companies real-time tracking of their inbound and outbound shipments.

Medtronic scoops up Massachusetts-based HeartWare

Medtronic Plc on Monday said it has agreed to acquire ailing HeartWare International Inc. for $1.1 billion, adding more products to treat heart failure to the medical-device maker’s portfolio.

Ireland-based Medtronic has a neurosurgery division based in Louisville, operating as Medtronic Navigation Inc. in the Colorado Technology Center. Medtronic’s subsidiary Covidien Ltd. operates a research and development division in Gunbarrel, northeast of Boulder, and it has a hearing-aid division, Medtronic-Sophono, in Boulder.
It is unclear how the acquisition might affect workers in Boulder, Gunbarrel and Louisville. Medtronic spokeswoman Tracy McNulty said, “Operations details will be worked out once the acquisition is completed.” The companies said they expect the deal to close during Medtronic’s second fiscal quarter, ending in late October.

The acquisition of HeartWave gives Medtronic more diagnostic tools and treatments for heart failure, a condition where the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to meet the body’s needs. HeartWare makes surgical implants that mimic the heart’s blood-pumping function, known as ventricular assist devices.

Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) will pay $58 a share in cash for Framingham, Mass.-based HeartWare (Nasdaq: HTWR), a 93 percent premium over HeartWare’s Friday closing price of $29.98. Before Monday, HeartWare’s stock had fallen 60 percent over the past year amid declining sales, problems with product studies and an acquisition that fell through.

In 2014, Minneapolis-based Medtronic Inc. paid $42.9 billion to acquire Dublin, Ireland-based medical-device maker Covidien Plc, including operations in Gunbarrel. In 2015, Medtronic acquired Boulder-based Sophono Inc., which makes hearing aids that work by using bone conduction.

concept3D adding new dimensions to design

Concept3DBOULDER — Sometimes a great business plan is to follow the smartest people you know in the industry, and in the tech industry who’s smarter than Google?

While Oliver Davis’ business plan has progressed substantially, including a major product launch on June 16, that was pretty much what he was thinking when he founded concept3D.

That business plan began in 2006 when Google acquired Boulder’s wildly successful SketchUp, a three-dimensional modeling computer program for a wide range of drawing applications such as architecture, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film and video-game design. Google Earth was just getting off the ground and Davis figured on partnering with the tech giant to create 3-D worlds.

“It was evident that there were no companies doing that,” said Davis, the company’s chief executive. “Our roots are really in SketchUp, and we built Google Earth models. From there we did a lot of work on the Beijing Olympics (in 2008) and a lot of work for South African and European stadiums.”

A services company during its infancy, concept3D still had plenty of steady work early on with offices in Boulder and in Eden Prairie, Minn. Zack Mertz, who was the lead trainer for SketchUp prior to the Google acquisition, was the company’s first hire and runs the Minnesota office as vice president for design and production.

A sample rendering of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., demonstrates the full depth of the atlas3D platform.

A sample rendering of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., demonstrates the full depth of the atlas3D platform.

“Then Disney came along and we started creating campus models,” Davis said. “We were contacted by Boston University (for a campuswide model). We had done some research in ways to make maps and 3D information more accessible, and that was the beginning of our CampusBird software.”

CampusBird, the company’s first product line, provides interactive maps and virtual tours to enrich online visitor experience — and presumably to enhance school enrollment. The company has sold the software to more than 250 universities, colleges and independent schools, but most of the 3-D imagery and mapping, which grew to include facility management services, was created by concept3D staff — meaning there was still quite a lot of reliance on the professional-services business model.

But a number of potential clients also were looking at the CampusBird model and wondering why concept3D wasn’t servicing their industries. One of those was the convention business, which has been using interactive mobile apps with maps to serve its guests, but really needed a more top-to-bottom software solution.

That solution, from Davis’ perspective, is the recently released atlas3D, which he said serves all elements of convention marketing and sales, as well as the exhibitors and guests. “Frankly, there are a lot of applications that work well enough for the guests,” he said.

For one thing, atlas3D addresses interior spaces much in the same way that CampusBird does outdoor spaces and visitation. That allows space planning by the owner or manager of the facility, as well as the host of the convention; marketing and sales by the convention planner, including online sales of specific convention areas; and planning and pricing for participants in the convention.

To top it off, atlas3D largely functions like a content-management website, allowing managers to add content and events, and rapidly change additional locations for specific conventions.

“The sky’s the limit on how much content and how many locations a planner can add,” Davis said. “They can choose what is shared publically or privately, and up to 60 people can be using the application” with specific access to areas they can change.

While conventions are a good example of how robust the atlas3D software can be, Davis said a number of other users have embraced the system in the year before its official release. One is a vacation area in Martha’s Vineyard, and a number of retirement communities already are on board, as well.

“We built atlas3D to provide a competitive edge for any location or facility looking to engage visitors online and promote their space,” said Davis in a prepared statement.

“There is no better way to give visitors, guests and customers an experience that allows them to explore and request more information or make a decision on the spot,” he said. “The atlas3D platform provides a set of tools our clients now depend on, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

While moving from a service provider to software product sales sometimes can be financially daunting, Davis said both the CampusBird and atlas3D business sectors will be positive revenue producers this year. The company doesn’t reveal its overall revenue stream, but Davis said revenue has doubled every year for a company looking forward to its 10th anniversary in August.

The company also has high hopes for its simuwatt Energy Auditor software, a cloud-based, tablet and desktop software solution that provides commercial building energy audits while preserving the data to facilitate reporting, portfolio-wide tracking and reuse. While this is the one section of the business that is not producing positive revenues, concept3D has been working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to provide a commercial product in the simuwatt Energy Auditor.

The business perspective and client list, certainly have rapidly expanded from what might have been more simple aspirations 10 years ago, Davis said.

“We still do work with Google, started out as a Google partner and were featured at Google IO a few years ago,’ he said. “We have a continued relationship with Google, but at the same time we see the need to be map agnostic.”

3 Boulder Valley companies boast EY Entrepreneur of the Year winners

DENVER — Executives from three companies based in the Boulder Valley won EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards for the Mountain Desert region at a ceremony in Denver on Thursday night.

Executives from eight local companies had last month been named finalists for the eight categories. Winners for the Mountain Desert region —which includes Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico — were selected by an independent judging panel made up of previous winners, leading CEOs, private investors and other business leaders from the region.

The trio of CEO Andy Grolnick, chief technology officer and co-founder Chris Petersen and chief scientist and co-founder Phil Villella of Boulder-based cybersecurity firm LogRhythm Inc. won in the Security category.

In the Consumer Products and Distribution category, CEO Paul Berberian of Boulder-based robotic-toy maker Sphero took home top honors.

And in the Transformational category, the chairman and CEO of Broomfield-based Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, was the winner.

Winners from the regional competition will be considered for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year national program, with those winners to be announced in November at the Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, Calif.

Davis picked to head NREL’s Biosciences Center

GOLDEN — Mark Davis has been named director of the Biosciences Center at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.

The Biosciences Center develops the underlying science and processes to produce cost-effective fuels and products from biomass.

Mark Davis

Mark Davis

“I am excited to be able to lead a team of world-class researchers focused on creating novel solutions to the important energy problems facing the nation,” Davis said in a prepared statement. He said the center “continues to publish multiple keynote scientific findings in high-impact journals, such as Science and Nature Biotechnology, and was recently recognized with an R&D 100 Award. It’s really an honor to work with this group of high-caliber individuals.”

“Mark has been serving in this capacity for almost a year, and we are very excited to now have him in this position formally,” said Adam Bratis, NREL’s associate lab director for BioEnergy Science and Technology, which oversees the Biosciences Center.

Davis earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, a master’s degree in physical chemistry from Colorado State University, and a doctorate in wood sciences, also from CSU.

He joined NREL in 1993 as a post-doctoral research associate and, since 2010, has served as the platform program manager for thermochemical processes. Davis also is directing the Enabling Technologies Focus Area for the BioEnergy Science Center, an Energy Department-sponsored effort led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Since joining NREL, Davis has also served as the group manager for Chemical and Catalyst Sciences in NREL’s National Bioenergy Center. He has authored or co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and three book chapters.

Flatiron Park warehouse gets new life in Boulder

Real Deals - Flatiron ParkBOULDER — Construction is under way on a 60,000-square-foot renovation of an old warehouse in Flatiron Park in east Boulder that, when completed, will house employees of Penton’s New Hope Network and Sovrn Holdings, two companies already in Boulder.

The building at 5541 Central Ave., owned by Goff Capital Partners LP, will be called The Loading Dock. Designer OZ Architecture is reusing the former warehouse and a loading dock that will serve as an elevated boardwalk that connects to the indoor office.

New Hope Network, which provides services to businesses in the healthy-lifestyle products industry, will move from its downtown headquarters at 1401 Pearl St. and occupy 30,000 square feet. Tech firm Sovrn Holdings, which helps publishers grow their businesses on the web, will move from 1750 29th St. and will occupy 30,000 square feet. Both firms will be leasing space.

The renovation is incorporating cross-laminated timber, which is made from engineered wood panels laminated together in alternating directions and has the look of heavy, old-growth lumber. Using cross-laminated timber offers waste reduction and environmental benefits because it is sourced using sustainable forestry practices and the boards are precisely pre-cut, which creates less material waste. The pieces arrive organized and numbered, allowing the building to be assembled on site. The primary structure of The Loading Dock will be erected in about a day.

“The look of CLT has captured our imagination because of its inherent beauty and authenticity, as well as the opportunity to provide a built solution that is sustainable and high performing,” said Amanda Johnson, associate principal at OZ Architecture, which has offices in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.

Joe Anastasi, lead designer on the project and associate at OZ, said the design concept is based on both connection and authenticity.

“We wanted to connect to the existing warehouse and outdoor environment architecturally, but more importantly, we had the opportunity to connect to this local fabric in a transformative way,” he said. “The potential for future development in this office park, the community, Colorado and even nationally required a distinctive solution that highlights an honest use of materials, one that exposed the beautiful structure and unique connections and details.”

To help reinforce this physical connection, a large CLT roof element cantilevers over the main entry and informal gathering deck space highlighted by string lighting above.

The project also is incorporating photovoltaic roof panels, and energy-saving mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Boulder-based Quinlan Construction Inc. is the general contractor for the project.

Doug Storum can be reached at 303-630-1951, 970-416-7369 or dstorum@bizwestmedia.com.

Things are looking up for a drone takeover

We’ve all seen them in the news: A drone lands on the White House lawn. Drone racing is the next sport of the modern age. Dutch police train eagles to attack surveillance drones. A drone is used to drop illegal drugs into an Ohio prison yard. Amazon plans to use drones to deliver packages. Google announces the use of suborbital drones to broadcast wifi to remote areas of the planet …

Unmanned aerial vehicles once were a small recreational niche but now are becoming the headlines of major stories in security, technology, sports and overall controversy. So what has caused such an accelerated market growth in these small, yet powerful devices?

Advancements in technology. The features and technology used in drones are rapidly developing, exceeding even the smartphone industry. It seems that every year, new devices hit the market with improved components and at a lower sticker price. Some drones now utilize 4K video recordings and have the ability to set GPS coordinates to accurately record precise footage and measurements. eHang, a Chinese company, is even testing an automated drone large enough to carry humans (for an entry price of $200,000 to $300,000). Much of this advancement in technology is driven by the consumers whom demand bigger and better products year after year.

Investments are booming. Despite an overwhelming increase in Federal Aviation Administration regulations regarding the usage of UAVs, investments in drone conglomerates have grown exponentially over the past year. According to CB Insights, in 2015 drone startup companies raised more than $450 million, an increase of more than 300 percent versus 2014 data. A January report by BI Intelligence highlights more dramatic figures to consider:

• Projected revenues from drone sales could top $12 billion in 2021.

• Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years.

• Safety technologies such as geo-fencing and collision avoidance will relax FAA regulations and enable large numbers of drones to take to the sky.

• Sports markets have been stimulated by large investments for competitive drone-racing leagues.

Applications on the rise. Drones continue to fill the skies as demand continues to parallel the amount of manufacturers in the market. As technologies continue to develop, more industries are seeing plausible applications for drone usage. The commercial markets of agriculture, land management, energy, construction, and oil and gas all have found lucrative ways to utilize drones in their respective fortes. Large defense-focused manufacturers also are emerging as government and security entities begin to enter the market.

Expect to see drones trending through more facets of our economy as the year continues. As technology and applications continue to expand, the FAA and government agencies will continue to be pressured to regulate both the commercial and recreational usage of UAVs.

For the recreational enthusiasts: Use common sense when flying these devices for personal use.  Keep your drones under 400 feet in altitude, steer clear of airports, pedestrians and vehicles, and always keep your device in visual sight while operating.

Hans Broman, a sales and marketing strategist at iPoint in Fort Collins, can be reached at hbroman@ipoint-tech.com.

Soundwall eyes growth with new CEO, $3M funding round

BROOMFIELD – Settled into its Broomfield headquarters after a move from Boulder last year, startup Soundwall Inc., closed recently on a $3 million funding round and saw cofounder David Hose return as CEO as the company works to get its “connected canvases” for art in front of more customers at brick-and-mortar retail locations.

Hose replaces Aaron Cohen, who was hired in late 2014 and will stay involved as an advisor for Soundwall. While remaining chairman of Soundwall, Hose had spent a yearlong stint as interim CEO of music-streaming service Rhapsody until late last year.

David Hose

David Hose

Now back leading the way for Soundwall, Hose said a major focus of the new funding round will be on ramping up sales and marketing, specifically getting customers to see the company’s products in person rather than just online. After a small launch in 2014, Soundwall increased sales in 2015 mostly through online sites.

Soundwall makes a canvas that is a speaker and is connected to the Internet, enabling it to do things like play music from a mobile device or play back the artist’s voice describing the painting. The company earlier this year added a “floating aluminum” version to its product lineup that is more modern and sleek looking than Soundwall’s original framed product.

“This year we realized that people who get it love the product,” Hose said. “But it’s hard for people to figure it out online, so we’re working out a strategy for that.”

Soundwall, which has an office in New York, will still keep higher-end pieces on display in galleries in places like New York and London. But Hose said the company plans to make a big push to get its canvases into more boutique retail stores as well.

“We’re going to find places where you’d expect to see magical, beautifully designed product,” Hose said.

The new funding round follows a $4 million round raised in late 2014 largely for product development and building out the company’s team, which Hose said has grown by 10 over the past year to about 20. John Malloy of California-based BlueRun Ventures led the previous round, while the lead investor of the latest round was not disclosed.

Soundwall, which had been operating out of the former Sutherland’s lumberyard site at 3390 Valmont St. in Boulder, moved last year into space in 530 Compton St. in Broomfield. Hose declined to disclose revenue. But he said Soundwall can produce about 200 of the handbuilt canvases – which can sell for $800 to as much as $20,000 – per month per shift at its new space, and said he’s working on adding a second shift. The aim, he said, is to continue to add employees this year.

“Our goal is to add to the Broomfield economy,” said Hose, who cofounded the company with Sven Coppom.