FORT COLLINS — Innovation driven by organizations such as the Rocky Mountain Innosphere plays a critical role in boosting Colorado's economy, Sen. Mark Udall told an audience at the business incubator Wednesday.

A mature economy like Colorado's requires innovation to spur growth, Udall said during a visit to celebrate the Innosphere's first anniversary in its new building on East Vine Drive. Udall also engaged in a discussion with the board of directors.

“You all are on a roll,” Udall told an audience of about two-dozen people. “As somebody who travels the entire state, I'm just so excited about what I see all over Colorado. People get it that you have to innovate to grow an economy.”

The Innosphere helps new technology, clean energy and scientific startups turn into productive businesses.

The Innosphere combines capital and good business ideas and serves as a nexus where public and private sectors can work together, Udall said.

“It's lonely and challenging to go into business,” he said. “We glorify and romanticize entrepreneurs, as we should, because they're risk-takers. But there are times when you need advice, you need insight, you need support and that's another function that the Innosphere provides.”

Having visited the Innosphere in its old building, Udall has seen it evolve, Innosphere acting CEO Ryan Speir said.

“He's very encouraging, very supportive,” Speir said.

Udall's visit to the Innosphere followed a town hall meeting he held at Colorado State University. After the Innosphere, he planned to head to Greeley for a tour of Crabtree Brewing Co. He later was scheduled to visit a Vestas factory in Brighton.