Sanchez: Innovation doesn’t depend upon calendar change

Welcome to 2020! A new decade with a fresh sense of possibility! So, where is my flying car? My jetpack? And most importantly — where is my Rosie Robot to clean house and fold laundry?

The year 2020 has always held a futuristic sense of potential. Growing up it felt far enough away that anything was possible (we could all be living the Jetsons’ life), but it was close enough that we would actually be around to experience it. I find I’m frustrated when my sense of possibility doesn’t always mesh with reality.

The reality is that innovation moves at its own pace. And rarely in step with what dreamers hope for. 

My grandmother grew up in Northern Colorado. Her family homestead is just miles away from where she lives in Fort Collins now. She and her nine brothers and sisters spent years in a sod hut with no running water or electricity to claim their farmland. They rode horses to a one-room schoolhouse and their father made moonshine on the sly to support the family. Her idea of innovation was indoor plumbing.

But since her birth in 1928, the world has been filled with innovations that have improved the standard of living. Cars, telephones, refrigeration, and washing machines changed the way we live. Television, computers, space flight and the internet have changed the way we dream. My grandmother grew up with no electricity. Now she messages me on Facebook with her smartphone.

The last century has been filled with exponential growth in innovation compared to previous centuries. Looking forward, will we be able to continue the same pace? For Northern Colorado, all signs point to yes.

One of the things I love about my job at LaunchNo.CO is meeting the entrepreneurs and business owners who are at the forefront of innovation here. We have companies who are making medical breakthroughs in dentistry and animal cancers. Medical device manufacturers who are making it possible to more accurately measure biologics in the air and one that  is changing the way shock affects those in wheelchairs.

We lead the way in renewable energy advancements and how we monitor and maintain those assets. We have companies that are making antiques fresh and accessible again and those that are creating brand new products to fill unmet needs. We have entrepreneurs who are trying to disrupt the way we look at things as fundamental as parental leave and those who are trying to make sure our senior population can navigate the growing digital world. 

We’re helping landlords be more effective and efficient, and we’re helping kitchens make the most out of their downtime. We’re building platforms that change the way music is produced and those that make it easier to manage your data usage. And I’ve barely scratched the surface of the tremendous innovation that’s happening here.

Through this column I want to take you on a journey of discovery to the innovation that’s happening all around us here in Northern Colorado. And while many believe that innovation comes from think tanks and massive corporations, in reality, the majority of it starts with ideas fleshed out at kitchen tables over beers. It’s planned in basements and built in garages. And it’s coming to life in our community through the hard work of entrepreneurs with a dream they want to see become a reality.

Now if someone would just speed up the pace on making Rosie the Robot a reality…

Jana Sanchez is the executive director of LaunchNo.CO, a nonprofit dedicated to helping companies form, grow, and stay in Northern Colorado. She can be reached at jana@launchno.co.