DENVER, Colo. – Hundreds of startup entrepreneurs, tech company executives, and healthcare professionals gathered at the edge of a dusty lot on the corner of 35th and Brighton last Thursday. As they watched, Larry Burgess, the lot’s owner, struck the ground with a shovel, officially commencing the construction of Catalyst HTI, a health-tech innovation hub that many in the audience would soon call home.
“When you think about the act of building a city, it always starts with the people,” Erik Mitisek, the chief innovation officer for the State of Colorado, told the crowd. “Mike and his team were smart. They said, ‘Let’s start with the community. Let’s bring together the providers and the payers. Let’s listen to what their needs are.”
When completed in early 2018, the new building will be a first-of-its-kind, 180,000 square foot health-tech industry integrator. The brainchild of digital health entrepreneur Mike Biselli, Catalyst HTI will attempt to house the members of Colorado’s thriving health innovation ecosystem, bringing cutting edge startups together with major tech companies and established healthcare organizations.
According to Biselli, consolidating Colorado’s health innovation ecosystem within Catalyst HTI will benefit all of its members, enhancing access to partnerships and funding for early stage companies, while enabling large corporations to work side-by-side with the innovators who are transforming their industry.
“We will connect innovators to the market by serving as a developmental partner, providing feedback, mentorship, and expertise,” Todd Evenson, chief operating officer of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said as he described the role that his organization would play within Catalyst HTI. “And when the innovators are ready, we will be there to bring them to market.”
With more than a year before the building opens its doors, Catalyst HTI already has an impressive list of tenants. A number of established healthcare organizations like MGMA, the American Diabetes Association, and Kaiser Permanente recently declared their intentions to lease space within the building. Several digital health startups have also agreed to become tenants, including Telespine, ListenMD, and BurstIQ. As he addressed the crowd on Thursday, Biselli announced that the Seattle-based health-tech investment network AngelMD would also be joining the project.
“AngelMD is an early stage investment marketplace for healthcare startups,” Biselli explained. “It connects these startups to physicians, investors, and industry leaders to accelerate the development of superior outcomes.”
The announcement that AngelMD was being added to Catalyst HTI’s list of tenants came a day after Biselli revealed that the global tech giant Hitachi had also agreed to lease a space within the building.
“We’re excited to use the capabilities of a hundred years of operational technology and sixty years of informational technology to drive innovation in healthcare,” said Kerry Sims, vice president of insights and analytics at Hitachi Consulting. “Our intention is to use this space as a place where we can collaborate with our partners and clients to solve the problems that are critical to their businesses.”
While Catalyst HTI is one of several office buildings slated for development within Denver’s River North District, many of the attendees at the ground breaking made a point of distinguishing it from the neighborhood’s other developments. Several future tenants stated that they viewed the building’s consolidation of Colorado’s health innovation ecosystem as crucial to the long-term success of their companies.
“We’re in a stage right now where relationships are everything for us,” said Dr. Mark Barnes, the founder of Telespine. “It’s how we grow as a company. It’s how we determine our future.”
And though almost all of the new buildings under development in the River North District are still in various stages of planning, the future tenants of Catalyst HTI appeared enthusiastic about moving their companies into the neighborhood.
“We moved iTriage into LoDo when it was kind of early, and the startup scene just blew up there,” said Patrick Leonard, the former CTO of iTriage and the current CEO of ListenMD. “There’s a strong creative class in Denver, and they tend to gravitate towards the city’s best locations. In the past, that was LoDo. But I really think River North is positioned to become Denver’s next great neighborhood.”
The excitement surrounding the project on Thursday afternoon was perhaps best expressed by Ryan Lucas, manager of engagement and development at Mines & Associates, a Littleton-based psychology firm and future tenant of Catalyst HTI.
“Catalyst HTI makes me think of those early conversations from my freshman year of college, those mind-blowing conversations I would have with people I had just met,” said Lucas. “Suddenly, I was seeing things differently, changing my views, and approaching class the next morning in a new way. That’s what’s exciting to me about Catalyst HTI, the mind-blowing conversations that could happen there every hour of every day.”