Innosphere Ventures Awarded $1.4 Million from Opportunity Now Colorado Grant Program to address regional workforce gaps in systems engineering

Innosphere Ventures, a technology incubator leading the collaborative initiative called the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine (CO-WY Engine), has been selected as a Phase 2 grant recipient of Opportunity Now Colorado, a regional workforce initiative. Innosphere will be awarded $1.4 million to work with Colorado State University and regional employers to address regional workforce gaps in systems engineering.

The funding is part of a total $2.4 million investment in the systems engineering workforce program, which aims to address critical workforce gaps and enhance economic mobility for participants working in the internship and apprenticeship program.

The goals of the CO-WY Engine, led by Innosphere Ventures, aligns with the mission of Opportunity Now Colorado, which seeks to foster innovative solutions for Colorado’s workforce needs through strategic partnerships between education systems and employers.

“The CO-WY Engine had identified systems engineering as a workforce gap area, and this funding will advance workforce development though internships and apprenticeships,” said Mike Freeman, CEO of the CO-WY Engine. “This funding will make it possible to address the critical shortage of systems engineers in our region.”

The National Science Board’s 2024 report underscores the importance of expanding the STEM workforce to sustain innovation and competitiveness. “This program directly responds to challenges highlighted in this report by focusing on the development of systems engineers, a critical component in the interdisciplinary field of climate technology and sustainability,” said Freeman.

This program focuses on the cleantech and aerospace industries who report a significant lack of available workforce and expertise in systems engineering, and has two focus areas. The first focuses on employing students with high school degrees, and those entering the community college system, with work-based learning opportunities who have an interest in systems engineering through both summer and year-round internships. The second is to launch an apprenticeship program for individuals already working in industry, who with additional support, can move toward a career path in systems engineering.

Colorado State University  will play a key leadership role in this workforce project. Thomas Bradley, Woodward professor and head of the Department of Systems Engineering in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, has launched courses and programs with industry partners to address these workforce development challenges. . “CSU is very excited to be able to work with Innosphere Ventures to help connect Colorado’s workforce to training, new skills, and new jobs among our aerospace, energy and climate industry partners,” said Bradley. “We’re ready to cultivate a new generation of systems engineers equipped to meet the demands of our rapidly evolving climate technology sector and broader STEM fields.”

For more information on the CO-WY Engine and its initiatives, visit

Media Contact: Betty Cozzolino, Chief Marketing Officer, [email protected]



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 CO-WY Engine: The Colorado-Wyoming Climate Innovation Engine (CO-WY Engine) is a collaborative initiative aimed at addressing critical workforce gaps in the climate technology sector and broader STEM fields. Through strategic partnerships and innovative programs, the CO-WY Engine seeks to cultivate a skilled, diverse, and innovative engineering talent pool ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s workforce.

About Colorado State University:

Colorado State University, one of the nation’s top-performing public research institutions, has more than 33,000 students. Founded in 1870 as Colorado’s land-grant institution, CSU is renowned for its world-class faculty and research and academic programs in infectious disease, atmospheric science, clean energy technologies, human and animal health, environmental science, global business and more. CSU graduates on average carry less student debt and are employed at higher rates than their peers nationwide.

About Opportunity Now:

Opportunity Now is an $85 million grant program catalyzing transformative change for Colorado’s workforce. Opportunity Now Colorado recently concluded its second phase of funding, awarding approximately $55.5 million in grants to 43 total grant recipients across various sectors. Enacted by HB22-1350, the program seeks innovative solutions to meet Colorado’s workforce needs through industry and education collaboration.