A destination for work and play.
By: Fitzsimons Innovation Community
We talked last month about the state of Colorado as a draw for life sciences organizations because of its favorable business environment, highly educated population, and access to leading research and academic facilities. But these companies are taking some of Colorado’s intangibles into consideration, too, because the top life sciences talent often comes here for the thriving scientific environment and then stays for the lifestyle. Sometimes it’s even the other way around.
We recently spoke with Joe Guiles, PhD, associate vice president and head of chemical development at Agilent Technologies, about why he chose Colorado and how the environment continues to attract top industry talent. Spanning his education and career, Dr. Guiles has made it a point to return to the Centennial State, even after his work took him to the East and West Coasts. He knows all about the ways the Colorado business environment draws life sciences organizations here, but he also cites the outdoors as a uniting factor and has a lot of insight into how that shared bond tends to bring people together at work.
“Colorado has a very collaborative spirit. Maybe because we love the beautiful outside spaces we all share. We celebrate the outdoors as individuals, but it imprints strongly, from shared moments like a group hike in one of our magnificent National Parks or an outdoor concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This mindset carries over into the business and work culture mindset and improves our ability to be successful together,” Dr. Guiles explains.
The concept of people’s shared outdoor activities uniting them doesn’t just happen within a company or two; Dr. Guiles sees this bond as a way to help competitors better understand each other and collaborate, too. Companies in the life sciences industry, though they may compete, all operate under the umbrella of helping people, and that shared goal combined with the unique Colorado propensity to meet other members of the scientific community out on the hiking trails or ski slopes, gives a foundation for working well together. It’s networking—Rocky Mountain style.
Dr. Guiles understands that a strong sense of interconnectedness is key in attracting talent. “Access to talent was one of the most important factors for Agilent in deciding to invest in expanding our manufacturing capacity of therapeutic RNA, and Colorado is full of skilled talent, either already here or willing to relocate,” he says.
Dr. Guiles is referring to the fact that in February of this year, Agilent broke ground on a $725 million therapeutic nucleic acid research and manufacturing facility that brings more than 160 life sciences jobs to Colorado. They made this investment knowing that when your company is located in one of the most desirable locations in the country, the talent comes to you.
Dr. Guiles also told us about how the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA) and its Colorado BioScience Institute have been vital in ensuring that the talent pool understands exactly what Colorado offers, as a business environment, and out under that blue sky, too. In a partnership with Agilent—as well as AGC Biologics, Corden Pharma, and KBI Biopharma—the Colorado BioScience Institute developed Pathways in Technology (PTech), an educational program unique to our state that allows students to earn both a high school diploma and a bioscience associate degree in a four- to five-year period. This partnership continues to develop a talent pool who will thrive in our state’s growing life sciences sector. It’s one more way to attract new talent, but it also creates an industry gateway for young Colorado locals who want to stay. And the thing about Colorado is that nearly everyone wants to stay.
It’s easy to understand why people come to Colorado to work and play. Our state is a constant presence on “best-of” lists in almost every category. While our first focus here at Fitzsimons Innovation Community will always be on the scientific environment and how it can continue to thrive, it’s nice to know that some of the smartest life sciences minds in the country already want to put down their roots here—where their discoveries and ideas are nurtured and funded, but where they can take some fresh-powder turns and summit a 14er, too.
For more information about how Colorado attracts life sciences talent, read the 2023 CBSA Peak Talent Report or check out the workforce data provided by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.
The answers provided reflect the views of Dr. Joe Guiles and should not be construed to represent Agilent Technologies’ views.