Incubator continues innovative work once championed by Hewlett-Packard

LOVELAND — An idea born 10 years ago as a virtual incubator to help second-stage companies “get across a sticky spot” in their development has now blossomed into a full-blown technology and manufacturing accelerator.

“We [Loveland] needed something to help companies grow, especially around manufacturing,” said Jay Dokter, a co-founder of The Warehouse Business Accelerator, which is now located in the former Hewlett-Packard Co. facility in Loveland.

The 48,000 square-foot Warehouse and the facility in which it sits, now called The Forge, are celebrating 60 years of innovation in Loveland with events this week. The events culminate on Saturday with 60 Years of Celebrating Seeds of Innovation; Saturday is almost exactly 60 years since the ribbon was cut on the first Hewlett-Packard building on the campus in Loveland. Loveland was home to the first HP facility outside of California.

The Warehouse hosted a fundraiser today to spotlight the work of the accelerator. 

“There are a lot of incubators,” Dokter said in his introduction. “This one is unusual in that it helps stage two companies grow around manufacturing. Companies come in, plug and play. They’re surrounded by advisers and find the equipment they need,” he said.

“Through COVID, have you noticed we’re vulnerable to supply-chain issues,” Dokter asked in referencing the manufacturing emphasis of the organization. “We’re known as ‘makers’ in Loveland.”

Allison Seabeck, executive director of the Warehouse, described the facility as one that helps companies get through a difficult spot that many second-stage companies experience. “It’s a landing spot for a short period of time,” she said. They can move into flexible spaces and share resources with other companies in the facility. Once on their feet, they can move into other, more permanent, space.

Thirteen companies use Warehouse services, and seven of those are in the space. One, aerospace company Opterus Research and Development Inc., will double its space in the facility soon as it develops technology that may be used to mount solar panels on the moon.

The Forge, the landlord for the Warehouse, has donated the space for 10 years to get the operation up and running.

The fundraising today was meant to supplement what the organization gathers through grants and other donations and will be used not for operations but for buying “hard assets that will be shared with multiple companies,” Dokter said.

“We need $5 million to finish this. Sixty years ago, the community raised $100,000 to buy this land, and that enabled Hewlett-Packard to come here.”

The Saturday event, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., will feature awards, speakers, music, food trucks, a ribbon-cutting and tours of the facility that at one time produced calculators and personal computers, along with test equipment. 

The campus “provided countless jobs [3,000 at one point] and helped Loveland grow into the city we know it today,” organizers of the event said in a written statement. “Families and nearly the whole west side of town weren’t there before this and wouldn’t be where it is today without it.”

The Forge campus is at 815 14th St. SW.

Source: BizWest

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