Strengthening Colorado’s Innovation Economy

Since 2022, I have been serving a two-year appointment to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), a federal advisory committee managed by the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship under Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Beginning last October and through March of this year, I led a subcommittee of advisory council members shaping a $10B Regional Innovation Hub program that will be funded by The CHIPS & Science Act. 

The program prioritizes advancing technologies, building new businesses, and shifting talent patterns around diversity, inclusivity, and job opportunities. It will invest “catalytic” $1B over five years in 10 state ecosystems that qualify for Tech Hub Designation.

Colorado’s Big Opportunity: Tech Hub Designation 

After learning so much from my colleagues, the EDA, and the Department of Commerce, I came back to Colorado to help our state pursue Tech Hub Designation. 

In April 2023, Governor Polis and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) launched TechHubNow!, a new public-private initiative to accelerate statewide collaboration, highlight Colorado’s strengths as a tech hub, and bring together partners who will develop equitable, inclusive, and highly competitive applications for Tech Hub Designation. 

TechHubNow! seeks to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship in Colorado “through advanced technologies that deliver economic and national security.” 

In fact, Colorado already has components of a successful hub, including:

  • One to two advanced technologies (KTFA) serve as the clear focal point
  • A strong leader to bring together the coalition and execute on its mission
  • Based in a defined place (MSA), but with clear benefit to surrounding rural communities
  • Attract and grow diverse talent via inclusive ladders of opportunity
  • Grow a collaborative ecosystem of established companies & startups
  • Connect and accelerate industry applied R&D with academia
  • Appeal to investment from private & public sector funding

Gathering a Consortium & Government Support

Since March, I’ve been working with state economic development officials at the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to communicate about the tech hub opportunity to our stakeholders. I’m delighted to be collaborating on these efforts with the new Executive Director of OEDIT, Eve Lieberman.

In April, TechHubNow! and OEDIT officials—along with Angela Martinez, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Trent Thompson, Economic Development Representative for Colorado at U.S. Department of Commerce—met with Alejandra Castillo, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce of the EDA to announce Colorado’s intention to seek Tech Hub Designation. 

And, in August, Governor Polis and OEDIT announced two strategic proposals to secure federal designation: the Colorado Cleanrange Consortium, representing advanced energy and cleantech industries, and Elevate Quantum–transforming our state’s nationally competitive clean energy tech hub into a global leader and establishing Colorado as the world’s leading hub for quantum information technology.   

As I said when the state announced TechHubNow’s launch: My goal is to ensure we elevate our status as a national innovation leader to become a premiere inclusive global tech hub, driving wide-scale, state-wide opportunities for family-sustaining, tech-related careers. TechHubNow! will help Colorado’s coalition to create the most robust application to ensure Colorado is designated and receives funding as an innovation hub.