Colorado Coalition Selected as Finalist for Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge

Colorado Coalition will Compete for up to $100 Million to Supercharge Economy through Eight Projects

The Colorado Coalition, the regional stakeholder group led by Innosphere Ventures in partnership with organizations from government, business, academia, and nonprofits named below, was named by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The Colorado Coalition will now advance to Phase 2 and compete for up to $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale the region’s research and development (R&D) intensive industries.

The Colorado Coalition’s vision is to create innovation at scale in two of Colorado’s leading industries – biosciences and cleantech. “We will leverage our nationally recognized innovation assets to build a world-class ecosystem for our region’s R&D-intensive growth industries,” said Mike Freeman, CEO of Innosphere Ventures. “These growth industries will be a leader in creating equitable growth across our region.”

The organizations that make up the Colorado Coalition include: Innosphere Ventures; State of Colorado; National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA); Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA); the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation; the cities of Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins; Jefferson County; the research universities of Colorado School of Mines, University of Colorado, and Colorado State University.

The Build Back Better Regional Challenge (Challenge) is assisting communities nationwide in their local efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. The Challenge is the largest economic development initiative from the U.S. Department of Commerce in decades.

“Colorado has a real opportunity to advance and lead in bioscience and cleantech – not just in the state, but nationally and internationally,” said J. J. Ament, President and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. “The Colorado Coalition is demonstrating our state’s proven track record of coming together to address the needs of our workforce and grow our economy for all Coloradans.”

“Achieving Colorado’s full potential lies in the opportunity to advance sub-segments of the bioscience and cleantech industries that require heavy R&D, specialized facilities, a well-trained workforce, and comprehensive startup support,” said Mike Freeman, CEO of Innosphere Ventures. “The Colorado Coalition proposed a total of eight projects within our Phase I proposal that are critical to the U.S. competitiveness in biosciences and cleantech. With our 6 construction and 2 non-construction projects, our proposal will propel the Colorado Front Range to higher economic performance and equitable growth.”

As a finalist, the Colorado Coalition was awarded $500,000 to develop a plan to execute eight tightly focused projects that advance the bioscience and cleantech industries:

  1. Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Prosper CO: Scale the existing Prosper CO initiative through the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation  to recruit, retain and promote women and people of color across the cluster and connect more BIPOC businesses to procurement opportunities.
  2. Expand startup and scaleup support for new ventures: Extend early support for all inventors at research universities and federal laboratories, invest in entrepreneurial training for a more diverse current and future workforce, expand product support, and improve industry access.
  3. Colorado School of Mines – Sustainable Infrastructure Center: Construct an R&D center focused on manufacturing, sustainable resource management, sustainable and advanced energy systems, water, and sustainable infrastructure.
  4. Colorado State University BioMARC: Expand the existing BioMARC facility to create a national asset for infectious disease-related GMP product development.
  5. Boulder Wetlabs – CU Boulder, City of Boulder, and Innosphere. Construct startup BSL-2 wet laboratory spaces, including offices, meeting rooms, and entrepreneurial incubator programs and services within the Boulder ecosystem.
  6. Denver Wetlabs – Colorado School of Mines, City of Denver, and Innosphere. Construct startup BSL-2 wet laboratory spaces, including offices, meeting rooms, and entrepreneurial incubator programs and services within the Denver ecosystem.
  7. Colorado State University. Expand the existing Powerhouse Energy Campus to provide advanced laboratories for cleantech innovators to commercialize energy and climate solutions.
  8. State of Colorado, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Jefferson County. Public-private partnership to create a Global Energy Park adjacent to the NREL campus focused on equitable energy transition, decarbonization, new climate solutions, improved public health, and environmental sustainability.

“The Build Back Better Regional Challenge aims to supercharge local economies and increase American competitiveness around the globe,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The outpouring of interest in this program shows the demand for the Build Back Better agenda and the desire to not only create good-paying jobs, but also strengthen our country’s economic resiliency for years down the road.” Phase 1 of the Build Back Better Regional Challenge invited coalitions to apply for funding to implement a collection of three to eight distinct but related projects in their region. Projects need to be in coordination with industry and community partners, and aligned around a holistic vision to build and scale a strategic industry sector.

EDA received 529 applications from regions in all 50 states and five territories, and the 60 finalists represent regions that formed extraordinary coalitions, demonstrated regional needs, and presented bold proposals to grow their target industry clusters. Colorado Coalition was the only applicant in Colorado to be named a finalist. Ranging from rural communities and coastal towns to major metros, the finalists make up a diverse cross-section of the United States.

In Phase 2, finalists will compete for significant implementation assistance. EDA will award 20-30 coalitions each up to $100 million. These awards will assist communities in executing ambitious plans to supercharge their regional economies across a variety of strategic growth sectors. The deadline for Phase 2 applications is March 15, 2022.

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