ColoradoWyoming Climate Resilience Engine wins inaugural NSF Regional Innovation Engines award with potential to receive up to $160M over 10 years

Award positions Colorado and Wyoming at the forefront of the nation’s environmental and climate technology initiatives 

FORT COLLINS, COLO. — Mon., Jan. 29, 2024 — The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced that the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine (CO-WY Engine) is an inaugural NSF Regional Innovation Engine (NSF Engines) awardee. The CO-WY Engine will initially receive up to $15 million for the next two years, totaling up to $160 million over ten years.  

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.  

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.  

“The inaugural NSF Engines awards demonstrate our enduring commitment to create opportunity everywhere and enable innovation anywhere,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “Through these NSF Engines, NSF aims to expand the frontiers of technology and innovation and spur economic growth across the nation through unprecedented investments in people and partnerships. NSF Engines hold significant promise to elevate and transform entire geographic regions into world-leading hubs of innovation.”  

“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.” 

To achieve these outcomes, the CO-WY Engine will focus on the development and commercialization of advanced climate-resilient technologies, spanning from environmental monitoring to predictive analytics. These technologies will empower communities, governments, and industries to effectively navigate and adapt to climate challenges. By focusing on innovative solutions in areas such as wildfire mitigation, water resource management, soil carbon capture, earth sensing, methane, sustainable agriculture and adaptation to extreme weather events, the CO-WY Engine will revolutionize how we predict, mitigate and adapt to climate impacts.  

Commercialization of these new technologies by the CO-WY Engine collaborators will result  in economic growth and job creation in the region. The Engine will not only support the growth of existing businesses but also support the emergence of new startups and attract outside investment. This economic boost is expected to transcend traditional industry boundaries, creating new opportunities in sectors directly and indirectly related to climate technology. The CO-WY Engine is committed to inclusive growth, and will ensure that economic benefits reach diverse and local communities, including rural areas, Tribal Nations, and those historically underrepresented in technological innovation processes.  

The final outcome of the CO-WY Engine is a profound impact on workforce development and community engagement. The Engine is committed to building a skilled workforce equipped to meet the demands of a changing climate technology sector through targeted educational and training initiatives that prepare current and future generations for emerging job opportunities. The CO-WY Engine will ensure that local workforce is a key driver and beneficiary of the region’s economic transformation, and that its solutions are grounded in local needs and perspectives. 

“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 Colorado Governor Polis. 

“Our country needs all of our energy and Wyoming’s expertise. Wyoming has always been a leader in energy and the environment, and we’re proud of that legacy,” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. “Wyoming’s economy will continue to grow as we meet the needs of evolving markets and expand our capabilities for innovation. Colorado and Wyoming bring the expertise and know-how necessary to develop new technologies and businesses that do that. The demand for electricity is only going to grow, and we are proud to be at the forefront of some of the most critical pieces of the West’s expanding energy economy.” 

Today’s announcement delivers on the bipartisan priorities outlined in the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” which authorized the NSF Engines program to make a potential investment of nearly $1.6 billion over the next decade.  

“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.  


Collaborators and Partners of the CO-WY Climate Resilience Engine 

Universities & Academic Institutions: 

Research universities: Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Denver, and from the EPSCoR state of Wyoming – the University of Wyoming which includes its High Plains American Indian Research Institute.
 Universities: Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) and the University of Northern Colorado.
 Community colleges: Colorado Community College System and the Wyoming Community College Commission. 
Corporate Partners:  Lockheed, NVIDIA, Palantir Technologies, Mars, Shell, Denver Water, Chevron, Trimble 
Federal Labs/ Federally Funded:  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. 
Translation of Innovation:  Innosphere Ventures, Rockies Venture Club, Activate, CSU STRATA, Third Derivative 
Economic Development:  Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Wyoming Business Council, City of Boulder, City of Fort Collins, City of Greeley, City of Denver, City of Cheyenne 
Policy Partners:  Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), Colorado Cleantech Industries Association (CCIA), Denver Chamber of Commerce, Clean Air Task Force 


About the CO-WY Climate Resilience Engine:
The Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine (CO-WY Engine) is a collaborative initiative focused on driving innovation in climate resiliency and sustainability across the Colorado-Wyoming region. Supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), the CO-WY Engine brings together a diverse network of partners to develop and commercialize technologies that address critical environmental challenges, foster economic growth and enhance community well-being. Visit for more information. 


About Innosphere Ventures: 

Innosphere Ventures accelerates the success of founders and university researchers who are launching and scaling science and technology-based startup companies with regional, industry-specific incubation programs, office and specialized wet laboratory facilities, and venture capital funds. Innosphere is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to grow the region’s innovation ecosystem and to support the commercialization efforts of startup companies in advanced industries. As the lead applicant of the NSF Engines proposal, Innosphere will spearhead the initiatives of the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine.  


About NSF Engines: 

The NSF Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program was launched by the NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships in May 2022. The NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research, development enterprise and regional-level resources. See a map of all inaugural NSF Engines awardees here. For more information, visit the NSF Engines program website.