The Next Innovation Economy: NACIE & TechHubNow!
In 2014, I leaned into an opportunity to apply my entrepreneurial mindset and skills to ecosystem building that would build and strengthen regional innovation economies. I experienced the value of connecting nodes across public and private sectors to ensure benefits flow across all stakeholders in an ecosystem, lifting economic resilience.
When I started this work nearly a decade ago, I didn’t imagine that a pandemic would accelerate those efforts and lead to opportunities to serve at the national level and state level. Since March 2020, Energize Colorado has sought to “create a resilient and equitable small business ecosystem” and to meaningfully address the nearly half-billion-dollar gap in funding for women, BIPOC, veterans, and rural small business owners and entrepreneurs in Colorado.
Energize Colorado was a natural extension of my previous work leading regional ecosystem initiatives, advising governments, developing partnerships, and supporting innovation programs that connect businesses, universities, governments, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and startup communities to catalyze innovation and increase impact.
In April 2023, I concluded a three-year term as CEO of Energize Colorado, stepping into the role of Chair. Moving to the role of Chair of Energize Colorado gave me the opportunity to focus on Colorado’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by leveraging national programs emphasizing economic development through innovation.
And, since April 2023, I have led TechHubNow!, an initiative supported by Governor Polis and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) that seeks Colorado’s federal designation as a Regional Innovation Hub.
Appointments to NACIE and the Center for American Entrepreneurship
In 2022, I accepted two opportunities to share my expertise in entrepreneurship and innovation at the national level. I joined the Advisory Board of the Center for American Entrepreneurship, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.–based research, policy, and advocacy organization that “works with policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels across the country to build a policy environment that promotes new business formation, survival, and growth.”
In the same year, I began 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 Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship under Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
NACIE is charged with identifying and recommending solutions to drive the innovation economy, including growing a skilled STEM workforce and removing barriers for entrepreneurs ushering innovative technologies into the market. The council also facilitates federal dialogue with the innovation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development communities.
In that role, from late 2022 into early 2023, I led a subcommittee of advisory council members tasked with 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.
The Future of Tech Hubs
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 the next phase of my work, I look forward to leading TechHubNow! and taking an active role in Colorado’s pursuit of Tech Hub Designation and funding from NACIE’s Regional Innovation Hub program.