Category: Technology

FAA’s new drone rules to ease burdens on commercial operators

The Federal Aviation Administration this week issued new rules that will become effective in August, easing some regulations for operators of drones used commercially.

FAA administrator Michael Huerta called these new rules a “first step,” as regulators work on additional rules that will expand the range of operations.

Tom Dougherty

Tom Dougherty

Tom Dougherty, an attorney with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP in Denver, said the new rules largely will replace the FAA’s Section 333 Exemption and Certificate of Waiver or Authorization processes for obtaining approval for commercial small unmanned aircraft operations.

Chief among the changes is elimination of the requirement that the operator have an FAA airman’s certificate, or pilot’s license. Given the time and expense associated with obtaining a pilot’s license, this requirement was a barrier to entry for many commercial operators, Dougherty explained.

Now, an operator must hold a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate with a sUAS (small unmanned aircraft systems) rating, which can be obtained by passing an FAA-approved aeronautical knowledge test, or by holding a current pilot certificate and completing an FAA-approved sUAS online training course.

The aeronautical knowledge test will be available through FAA-approved knowledge test centers around the country on the effective date of the final rules, and the online training for current pilots will be available at

Other aspects of the final rules include:

• Use of a visual observer is no longer required, but is still advised;

• Drone operations from a moving vehicle are permitted in sparsely populated areas;

• Drone operations 400 feet above ground level are permitted if the drone remains within a 400-foot radius of a structure and no higher than 400 feet above the structure;

• External loads are allowed if the load being carried is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight performance of the drone;

• And intrastate transportation of property is allowed, but may not be conducted from a moving vehicle.

Many existing rules remain in place, Dougherty said. Commercial drones must still remain clear of other aircraft and not be operated in a careless or reckless manner. They must weigh less than 55 pounds including payload. Drones must remain at or below 400 feet above ground level; fly no faster than 100 mph; operate within certain visibility and cloud clearance requirements; and be subjected to a preflight safety check by the operator.

Hickenlooper’s Brazil trip includes stop at Level 3 data center

BROOMFIELD – As part of his four-day trip to Brazil this week, Gov. John Hickenlooper made a stop at Broomfield-based Level 3 Communications’ data center in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday.

Hickenlooper traveled to Brazil as part of a delegation of 54 Colorado business, academic and civic leaders attending the 2016 Biennial Summit to Brazil to help showcase Colorado’s business environment to foreign investors.

Hickenlooper toured Level 3’s toured Level 3’s data center, network operations center and distributed denial of service scrubbing center in Sao Paulo to learn more about the company’s cybersecurity services.

Level 3 owns 17 data centers in Latin America, including three in Brazil. The Sao Paulo scrubbing center, opened earlier this year, mitigates against cyber attacks to help customers recover from malicious activity. It’s Level 3’s ninth such center worldwide.

“Seeing firsthand Level 3’s data center gave me great insight into how they identify, research and detect malicious cyber activity,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “It also reinforced how the efforts we have underway in the state of Colorado will help protect global businesses of all sizes against increasing cyber threats.”

Hickenlooper’s trip continues today and Friday and includes a tour of Projac, Latin America’s largest audio-visual production center, and a visit to Espaco NAVE, a startup incubator.

MergeLane grad BallotReady campaigns to empower voters

BOULDER — The founders of BallotReady came to Boulder in February with the goal of their online voter guide providing comprehensive information on candidates and issues in seven states for this fall’s general election. By the time they graduated from the MergeLane startup accelerator 12 weeks later, they instead were ready to ramp up to 25 states.

BallotReady chief executive Alex Niemczewski said her Chicago-based startup’s time spent in Boulder earlier this year proved invaluable as it related to team development, marketing, scaling and fundraising strategies.

“I could talk about how wonderful they are for hours,” Niemczewski said of MergeLane in a recent phone interview.

Colorado’s importance to BallotReady didn’t end in April. The state is one of just four in which the website is covering primary elections this year as well, testing out strategies ahead of the big rollout this fall.

With Colorado primary ballots due June 28, Colorado voters at no cost can enter their address and party affiliation at and see a list of every candidate running in the primary for every race at the national, state and local levels — all specific to each voter’s individual ballot. From there, voters can find aggregated information on each candidate, ranging from previous experience to endorsements to news to stances on issues. For the general election in the fall, information on ballot measures will be included as well.

BallotReady’s value, Niemczewski said, is particularly in the local races, where candidates for races such as, say, university regents aren’t always as well-known and voters often resort to guessing or leaving portions of their ballot blank.

“We’re pretty inundated with information about the presidential candidates,” she said. “Most people are decided when they show up to vote for president, but they’re not prepared for the rest of the ballot.”

Founded by Niemczewski, Aviva Rosman and Sebastian Ellefson in late 2014, BallotReady partners with the University of Chicago’s nonpartisan Institute of Politics and boasts among its board of advisors David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Obama, and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

BallotReady covered Chicago’s mayoral runoff election in the spring of 2015, spending about $180 and attracting 400 users. The site already has covered primaries in Illinois, Kentucky and Maryland this year. For the Illinois primary in March, BallotReady attracted 64,000 users, or about 2 percent of overall voter turnout. For the Kentucky primary last month, though, BallotReady officials said usage ballooned to 12 percent of registered voters in the state who accessed the site to view candidate information.

BallotReady still is finalizing which 25 states it will cover this fall, Niemczewski said, with an eye on swing states where races figure to be more hotly contested. General election info will begin going live on the site in September or October.

While other sites such as Ballotpedia and Change Politics offer some form of the same services, Niemczewski said BallotReady aims to set itself apart by covering every candidate on every person’s ballot and providing more comprehensive information. BallotReady users also can set preferences on the issues that matter most to them and compare candidates on those specific topics. The site aims to prevent bias by aggregating information on the web as opposed to providing summaries or recommendations. The site also lists candidates for each race in random order.

Niemczewski said the eventual goal is to “cover every race, every election in every democracy at some point.” Since BallotReady plans to always keep the site free for voters, the company is pre-revenue at this point. Niemczewski said the priority this year is making the site useful for voters, with a deeper dive into making money next year. She said the major avenue for revenue is tapping into the billions of dollars spent on campaigns every year. That could mean selling data on what voters care about in a given district to candidates, elected officials or advocacy groups, or other things such as selling ads or video spots on specific candidates’ profile pages.

MergeLane cofounder Sue Heilbronner said the team of cofounders is what attracted the accelerator to BallotReady first and foremost. But she said the user traction the site has already gained encourages her that the company will find a way to make money.

Funded so far mostly by grants from the National Science Foundation and Knight Foundation, as well as prize money from various pitch contests, Niemczewski said the company has raised about 75 percent of a planned $750,000 seed funding round.

MergeLane, through its discretionary investment fund, has committed a six-figure investment to the round.

“If (the user rate in Kentucky) is the kind of traction they’re seeing in their first month of operation,” Heilbronner said, “we have a high level of confidence that they’re filling a need that will have material business implications.”

Joshua Lindenstein can be reached at 303-630-1943, 970-416-7343 or Follow him on Twitter at @joshlindenstein

Pfizer plans shutdown of Boulder plant by 2019

BOULDER — Officials for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) on Wednesday told Boulder employees that the company would be closing down its local manufacturing facility by 2019 and eliminating the 100-plus jobs there.

The 50,000-square-foot facility at 4876 Sterling Drive came under Pfizer control following the company’s $16 billion acquisition of Hospira last year.

Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion said no layoffs have occurred at the site, yet. She said that the exact timing of the layoffs isn’t yet clear, but noted that they will occur in phases over the next three years. She said Boulder employees would be considered for manufacturing jobs elsewhere within Pfizer. The company operates 63 plants globally, though the Boulder site is Pfizer’s only facility in Colorado.

Campion said the decision to cease Boulder operations follows an analysis of Pfizer’s and Hospira’s combined manufacturing capabilities that determined there is “underutilized capacity” within the company’s network.

The Boulder facility makes various active pharmaceutical ingredients, including paclitaxel, tromethamine and irenotecan. The APIs are then shipped to other production sites to be used in high-potency sterile injectable products treating a range of conditions. Campion said production of the drugs made in Boulder will be transferred to other sites.

“The recommendation to exit the site is not a reflection of the work performed at Boulder, but rather is based on a number of factors, including the existing capacity within Pfizer’s manufacturing network and the efficiency of consolidating manufacturing to fewer locations,” Campion said.

The closure is a blow for Boulder’s bioscience sector, which last month saw Clovis Oncology announce that it would eliminate 35 percent of its jobs by the end of the year.

But Clif Harald, executive director of the Boulder Economic Council, said he’s hopeful that many of the affected Pfizer employees will be able to land locally. He noted that some 125 bioscience companies account for roughly 4,700 jobs in Boulder County, and that the Boulder-Denver region as a whole is seen as a bioscience hub thanks largely to the University of Colorado campuses. While there have been layoffs and exits from the sector locally, AstraZeneca is in the process of ramping up operations at a former Amgen site in east Boulder.

“It’s always painful to know people are losing their jobs,” Harald said. “But we’re pretty confident that with the growth in other companies those people will be able to find other opportunities, if not in Boulder, then nearby.”

New owner to convert former LSI building in Fort Collins

FORT COLLINS — The new owners of an empty 158,000-square-foot building in southeast Fort Collins formerly occupied by chipmaker LSI Corp. plan to convert it to a multitenant office building.

LSI Corp. of Milpitas, Calif., sold the building and the 12.5 acres it sits on at 2001 Danfield Court in the Collindale Industrial Park to 2001 Danfield LLC of Fort Collins for $5.7 million. The entity used by the new owners is registered to Troy Peterson of Fort Collins, according to Secretary of State records.

“This sale is indicative of the growing interest we are seeing in Fort Collins in repurposing older buildings for new and innovative uses,” said Peter Kast, senior vice president with CBRE Group Inc. in Fort Collins, who along with Ham Southworth of CBRE in Palo Alto represented the seller.

Constructed in 1979, the building is equipped for heavy power and includes 10 gigabits per second fiber, a freight elevator, overhead doors and a back-up generator system. The property also has a cafeteria and fitness center.

CBRE Fort Collins was awarded the leasing assignment for the property. Upon completion of the conversion, the building’s new address will be 3405 S. Timberline Road.

LSI Corp. employed about 175 people at 2001 Danfield Court before Avago Technologies Ltd. acquired LSI for $6.6 billion in 2014.

13 local firms named to Colorado OEDIT’s ‘Companies to Watch’ list

DENVER — Nine companies based in the Boulder Valley and four in Northern Colorado are among the 50 Colorado Companies to Watch for 2016 that were announced Friday evening.

Seven of the companies are based in Boulder: Agribotix Inc., Astra LLC, Avid4 Adventure Inc., Purely Elizabeth, Quinn Snacks, SnapEngage and Kindara Inc.

Sustainable Supply in Broomfield and Liqid Inc. in Lafayette made the list.

Companies in Northern Colorado include Canyon Bakehouse and Good Day Pharmacy in Loveland, CPP Inc. in Fort Collins and All Phase Restoration in Windsor.

The 50 winning firms are second-stage companies. They were honored for innovation and economic impact. Chosen from more than 1,000 nominations, the winners represent a range of industries and are recognized for their success and potential for growth, community involvement, philanthropy and corporate culture.

In 2015, this year’s winners employed 1,913 full-time employees and are expecting to create 380 new jobs in 2016. They combined for $503 million in revenue in 2015 and are expected to earn $679.9 million in 2016.

The awards program was launched in 2009 by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation and community partners from across Colorado.

Help tech-savvy drivers get a charge out of you

didn’t mean to do it. All I meant to do was meet up with a business contact for coffee at the east-end Laughing Goat. They happen to share a space with Green Eyed Motors, a car dealership specializing in low- or no-emission used vehicles. Then I saw it, in all her glacier-white glory: The 2012 Nissan Leaf. An hour later, I found myself filling out paperwork to make her mine.

It made too much sense. At a cost of $10,000, with $1,500 in tax rebates, it will end up costing my business $8,500 plus tax to have a company vehicle for around-town trips. You can easily spend more on a fancy mountain bike. In addition, we are showing a continued commitment to the environment everywhere we go.

The day after picking up the car, my excitement got the best of me and I decided to use it to visit a client in Aurora, a 70-mile round trip. The battery meter said that I have a range of 85 miles on the current charge. No problem.

Before even leaving the city limits of Boulder, my once-mighty 85-mile range estimate had dwindled to 60. Worry began to set in. With a gas vehicle, filling up takes minutes. With an EV, you’re looking at hours to get to full. Upon my arrival at my destination, I began my research to determine how I was going to make it back to Boulder after my appointment. After downloading the PlugShare app on my smartphone — an amazing app, by the way — it became clear to me that the EV charging infrastructure had matured more than I had expected.

All around me was a sea of free charging stations ready to serve me. The app allows the ability to rate each station. Some stations are frequently out of order, while others are solid choices. The rating system goes from one to 10. Some stations can charge a vehicle in 20 minutes, such as the ones at Nissan dealerships. Other charging stations can get you to 100 percent in a few hours.

On this day, due to my tight schedule, I opted for the Nissan dealership’s fast-charging station. After being offered a bottle of water, a cup of coffee, a comfy seat and free wifi, I began to realize that everything will be fine. The need to recharge the car’s batteries gave me a chance to recharge my own batteries. There is a deep lesson there.

The next day, I had to get myself down to Denver again. This time, I prepared the night before by locating the charging stations that were in close proximity to my appointment in Denver. A Whole Foods a few blocks away had two charging stations that would easily charge my car while I visited this client.

Why would Whole Foods decide to give me free electricity? This is like Safeway filling up your car with gas while you shop. It made no sense to me. As it turns out, it only costs 10 to 15 cents per hour to charge an electric car. Considering that I have a hard time leaving Whole Foods without spending at least $50, they might be onto something here. After my appointment, it was no surprise where I bought lunch.

This made me realize that as more EVs join the fleet of customer vehicles, offering free charging is going to bring in those customers. EV owners are younger and wealthier than hybrid-vehicle owners, on average. If you are looking to attract more tech-savvy, affluent customers, give them free electricity.

The cost to purchase and install an EV charging station is about $2,000, depending on how hard it is to get a 220-volt breaker installed at your location. In addition, the county has some rebate programs to trim the cost. It’s a small price to pay to not only walk the sustainability talk but to feed your business bottom line.

Boulder’s tech scene will only keep growing as the Googles of the world eye its beauty. Let’s welcome them to our area (and businesses) with a world-class EV charging infrastructure.

Shaun Oshman is founder and chief executive of iSupportU in Boulder. He can be reached at 303-630-9974 or

New Hope Network, Sovrn Holdings to move into renovated east Boulder space

BOULDER — Construction is underway on a 60,000-square-foot renovation of and addition to an old warehouse building 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, 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. OZ Architecture has offices in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.  Boulder-based Quinlan Construction Inc. is the general contractor for the project.


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 its offices at 1750 29th St. and will occupy 30,000 square feet.

An architectural rendering shows a portion of the interior of The Loading Dock. (Courtesy OZ Architecture)

An architectural rendering shows a portion of the interior of The Loading Dock. (Courtesy OZ Architecture)

Both companies 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 approximately one day later this month, according to spokeswoman Cori Keeton Pope.

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

Editor’s note: Due to inaccurate information initially provided to BizWest, the size of the project and the amount of space New Hope Network and Sovrn Holdings will occupy was corrected June 14.



Hach Co. to break ground on R&D facility in Loveland

LOVELAND —  Hach Co., a Loveland-based manufacturer of high-tech water-testing equipment, said Monday it will break ground on a multimillion-dollar research and development facility on its existing two-building campus.

The official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, June 16, at the future construction site, south of its existing facility at 5600 Lindbergh Drive.

The new building will be approximately 86,000-square feet and it will house work spaces for Hach’s development teams, with multiple testing and development laboratories. All existing research laboratories and facilities will move into the new building, providing associates with the most advanced equipment and resources while creating room to expand and add associate work spaces in the existing buildings.

“Hach has a great history of innovation, and this investment will ensure we continue to develop state-of-the-art new products, attract great talent and maintain our commitment to customers,” Kevin Klau, Hach’s president said in a prepared statement.  “Cliff and Kitty Hach chose Loveland more than 35 years ago to expand their growing business, and it’s exciting to make this investment in light of Hach’s continued growth.”

Hach’s existing Loveland facilities include two buildings with more than 200,000 square feet that are currently used for manufacturing, research and development, marketing, technical support, customer service and other business functions.

More than 750 associates work on the Loveland campus and another 50 are working from leased office space in Fort Collins.  This expansion will offer additional space to support Hach’s near-term and anticipated future growth.

“Our commitment to invest in research and development to support Hach’s continued growth helps enable us to keep delivering on our mission to ensure water quality for people around the world,” Klau said.



Clovis Oncology files $200M shelf registration

BOULDER – Biopharmaceutical company Clovis Oncology Inc. (Nasdaq: CLVS) on Friday filed a shelf registration for up to $200 million-worth of securities, replacing a similar registration from 2013 that is expiring.

The filing gives the Boulder-based company the flexibility to conduct an offering more quickly at some point in the future if Clovis were to need cash or market conditions became favorable for an offering.

Friday’s filing notes that through the registration the company could offer some combination of common stock, preferred stock, warrants and/or debt securities not to exceed $200 million.

In its first-quarter earnings report, Clovis reported cash and cash equivalents of $220.4 million. Company officials also noted in the report that Clovis, as of March 31, had existing working capital to fund operations through at least the next 12 months, indicating that an offering from Friday’s registration isn’t likely imminent.

Clovis shares took a hit Friday, dropping 7.4 percent from Thursday’s close to $14.11.

Clovis is developing a variety of cancer drugs, including rucaparib, for which the company plans to complete its new drug application submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as it seeks approval for the drug in the treatment of ovarian cancer.

The company announced in May that it was eliminating 35 percent of staff and contractor positions. That move was in response to the company pulling the plug on lung cancer drug candidate rociletinib after receiving notice that the company would not receive accelerated FDA approval for the drug.