Why CSU Spur?
The City of Denver has been home for over a century to the National Western Stock Show—one of the premier agricultural trade shows in the nation, attracting over 700,000 visitors each year. Yet, a decade ago, aging facilities made the NWSS a point of discussion for city planners, who considered selling the site to developers and moving the annual event to new grounds on the periphery of the metro area.
However, the city recognized the importance of agriculture and the importance of innovation and development of next generation agribusiness and food for the state and regional economy. Instead of facilitating a move to the exurban periphery, city leaders decided to partner with state government, local museums, and Colorado State University to reinvest in the National Wester Center and to greatly expand the scope of activities.
Thus CSU Spur was born, a unique university campus located within the larger National Wester Center, transformed to include education, research, and support of entrepreneurship. This fusion celebrates Colorado’s agricultural heritage, connects the urban public to rural agriculture, and creates the future of agriculture. One articulation of the overarching goal for the City of Denver, the State of Colorado, and CSU is to help make the Front Range a “Silicon Valley of Agriculture”.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiatives at SPUR
Several initiatives launched at CSU Spur focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in the agricultural and food system in Colorado, the US, and the world. Consistent with Colorado State University’s three missions as a Land Grant university, these programs drive synergistic research, education, and outreach with an aim to facilitate the creation and the success of new innovations and new startups in Colorado’s agriculture and food industries. To do so, the program is proposed to consist of three interdependent components:
- The Metropolitan Agricultural Research Center, a new research station of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station (AES). This program will conduct cutting-edge, engaged research on sustainable urban food production and community food systems, agricultural and natural resource governance and policy, agricultural literacy, food safety and human health, as well as agribusiness innovation and entrepreneurship;
- Educational Programs, which will provide a variety of tours, workshops, short courses, continuing education, certificates and degree programs , broadly defined. The Masters in Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management is one of the early offerings in this area;
- Agribusiness and food innovation incubators, with lab and office space, including the Ag Innovation Center and the Food Innovation Center, reaching out to support new firms across the industry in Colorado and reaching in to support the new startups being launched out of CSU and other universities.
- The innovation initiatives at CSU Spur and the National Western Center are managed through partnership between CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station, along with the graduate educational program—the Masters in Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management —to be offered by CSU’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics through CSU Online.