Bennet, Hickenlooper, Polis, Neguse Celebrate NSF Engine Designation, Funding for Colorado

Created by CHIPS and Science Act, NSF Regional Innovation Engines Program Could Bring $160 Million to Region

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper alongside Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Colorado U.S. Representative Joe Neguse welcomed the announcement from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) that one of the first-ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines will be headquartered in Colorado. The NSF Engines program is one of the single largest investments in place-based research and development in the nation's history and uniquely places science and technology leadership as the central driver for regional economic competitiveness. 

“From colleges and universities conducting cutting-edge research to companies of all sizes developing and implementing advanced technology, our state leads the country in clean energy innovation. This funding will help fuel discoveries to combat climate change and attract further investment to Colorado,” said Bennet.

“Years of innovation made Colorado a leader in science and technology,” said Hickenlooper. “This is bigger than a one-time grant, it’s a paved path to massive economic development for decades to come.”

“Winning this major award and funding is a reflection of Colorado’s leadership in renewable energy, and will drive even more innovation that will help address climate change, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen our economy. We look forward to partnering with Wyoming to support the CO-WY Engine’s important work,” said Polis.

“In western states like Colorado and Wyoming, because there is no fire season, wildfire work is year-round. It is happening every month, every week, every day. And by designating this region as a first-of-its-kind Climate Resilience Engine, the National Science Foundation is investing in our state’s booming innovation and research landscape to help tackle this crisis,” said Neguse. “I’m excited to see the NSF take this action to help our communities prevent and recover from unprecedented wildfires and devastating droughts.”

The Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine is one of 10 NSF engines across 18 states announced today and designed to ensure the U.S. remains globally competitive in key technology areas for decades to come. The Colorado-Wyoming NSF engine will initially receive up to $15 million for two years, which is being matched nearly two-to-one in commitments from state and local governments, other federal agencies, philanthropy, and private industry. NSF Engines nationwide are eligible to compete for future NSF investments totaling nearly $1.6 billion over the next decade. 

“In ten years, the CO-WY Engine expects to generate significant economic impact for the region, including 22,000 new climate technology related jobs, $1.5 billion in regional GDP impact, more than $1 billion in private capital formation, the training of more than 2,000 individuals, and the distribution of $80 million in commercialization grants to startups in the climate technology sector,” said Mike Freeman, CEO, Innosphere Ventures, and incoming CEO, Colorado-Wyoming NSF Engine.

“Through this transformative funding, Colorado and Wyoming will lead the nation in developing climate-resilient and sustainable technologies—all while growing an inclusive workforce, creating good-paying jobs for Coloradans and making key investments in important new technologies. We look forward to supporting this exciting work,” said Eve Lieberman, Executive Director, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Spearheaded by Innosphere Ventures, the Colorado-Wyoming won designation thanks to a robust startup ecosystem and research capacity in its universities with deep expertise in fields and technologies central to climate resiliency, including monitoring methane emissions, soil carbon capture, Earth sensing, water availability predicting, wildfire risk/prediction, and extreme weather modeling.