Energy, Utilities & Water  January 29, 2024

Colorado-Wyoming climate-tech initiative could receive $160M from NSF

FORT COLLINS — The Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine has been designated a Regional Innovation Engine by the National Science Foundation, making the collaborative effort eligible for as much as $160 million in federal funding over the next 10 years.  

The CO-WY Engine, led by Fort Collins-based accelerator program Innosphere with participation from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, will “create technologies and tools needed to combat global climate changes, and develop a new climate economy, locally and nationally, through: 1) identifying climate challenges, including needs in measurement, standardization, and barriers to equitable technology adoption and implementation; 2) funding and providing strategic partnering for the selected technologies, developed via use-inspired and translational research; and 3) implementing new programs that align the regional workforce,” according to a news release.

The initial funding for the engine is $15 million over the next two years, with additional money available down the line. 

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“The CO-WY Engine will be instrumental in bringing technology-driven solutions to life, growing our two-state economy, and reshaping our region’s and nation’s ability to become more climate resilient,” Innosphere CEO Mike Freeman said in the release. “In 10 years, the CO-WY Engine will generate significant economic impact for our region, including 22,000 new climate technology-related jobs, $1.5 billion in regional GDP impact, more than $1 billion in private capital formation, train or reskill more than 2,000 individuals, and distribute $80 million in commercialization grants to startups in the climate technology sector.” 

The local effort is among the first parts of the country to win a Regional Innovation Engine designation from the NSF, which has nearly $1.6 billion in CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 funding to dole out it to engine programs over the next decade.

“The inaugural NSF Engines awards demonstrate our enduring commitment to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation anywhere,” NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan said in the release.  “Through these NSF Engines, NSF aims to expand the frontiers of technology and innovation and spur economic growth across the nation through unprecedented investments in people and partnerships. NSF Engines hold significant promise to elevate and transform entire geographic regions into world-leading hubs of innovation.” 

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