Innovation Arises from Deep in the Mountains with Gunnison’s ICELab
Gunnison, Colorado, in many ways, is an island – far removed from the Front Range and only loosely connected to the western slope. Which is why Western State Colorado University’s ICELab (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) accelerator leadership team recently took a trip to Hawaii. Delaney Keating, Strategic Partnerships and Program Development Director, says they wanted to understand how venture accelerator Blue Startups navigates the challenges of isolation.
Whether it’s recruiting entrepreneurs and startups, bringing mentors into town to help the cohort or sharing ICELab’s story with the greater Colorado community, they face an uphill battle.
“I’m building a startup for startups,” Keating said.
By all accounts, she’s pulling it off.
The ICELab Accelerator is about to kick off its 12-week, mentor-driven program on August 14 with five talented startups from neighboring counties and cities, including a standout student entrepreneur from WSCU. Those startups bring in diverse business ideas like a portable gear dryer for helmets, boots, gloves and more, an anonymous text-based platform for helping students with life, stress and school, or a high-end instant coffee meant for hiking fourteeners.
ICELab has a lot to offer to get those ideas moving, including 1-gigabit Internet, development labs for designing promotional and marketing materials, and access to the Global Accelerator Network (GAN) and its extensive network of mentors. All in a renovated space complete with a bar and restaurant below its main space.
Funded in part through a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help offset recent coal mine closures and catalyze job growth, ICELab stands out as a unique asset deep in the mountains.
Daniel Marshall, who manages ICELab and has long called the region home, is excited to play a role in helping ideas come to life, and said he wants to do everything he can to “keep talented people in the community.”
It’s a message that resonates across the state: every city and town, large or small, can be a source for innovation. Connect with Gunnison and ICELab as this gem in the middle of Colorado elevates the best and brightest far, far away from the Front Range.