On January 29, 2024 the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the Colorado—Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine proposal has won an inaugural NSF Regional Innovation Engines award of $15M with potential to receive up to $160M over 10 years. This Award positions Colorado and Wyoming at the forefront of the nation’s environmental and climate technology initiatives.
The CO-WY Engine is a groundbreaking initiative focused on driving innovation in climate resiliency which will catalyze a series of significant outcomes to reshape the landscape of reliable climate technologies and economic development in Colorado and Wyoming – two states that have grappled with two decades of environmental challenges such as aridification and extreme weather events.
The CO-WY Engine, led by Innosphere Ventures, will drive the development and commercialization of innovative solutions that support communities to monitor, mitigate, and adapt to climate impacts. By focusing on innovative solutions in areas like wildfire mitigation, water resource management, sustainable agriculture and adaptation to extreme weather events, the CO-WY Climate Resilience Engine is poised to revolutionize how we understand, predict and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
“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,” said Mike Freeman, CEO of Innosphere Ventures and incoming CEO for the CO-WY Climate Resilience Engine. “In ten 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.”
“Forming the backbone of the CO-WY Engine is our diverse partnership network – spanning industry, academia, government and community sectors,” said Freeman.
Key partners include prominent research institutions, federal laboratories, regional economic development organizations, and policy and community groups, including the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and the University of Wyoming which includes its High Plains American Indian Research Institute. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), US Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), NSF’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and CO-LABS.
CO-LABS gives a HUGE congratulations to the Innosphere Ventures team, led by Director Mike Freeman, for their tireless work to organize so many details, partners and crucial visioning around resiliency that resulted in this proposal rising to the top of a national competition for funding.
The CO-WY Climate Resilience Engine is set to have a profound impact on workforce development and community engagement, and places a strong emphasis on inclusive growth, ensuring that these economic benefits reach across diverse communities.
The NSF Engines program represents one of the single largest investments in place-based economic development in the nation's history — uniquely placing science and technology leadership as the central driver for regional economic competitiveness and job creation.