Positioning Colorado as a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub: Polis Administration’s TechHubNow! Initiative Submits Two Applications for Federal Designation

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

DENVER - Today, Governor Polis and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) announced two strategic proposals identified through the Colorado TechHubNow! Initiative applied to the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to secure federal designation as Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs): the Colorado Cleanrange Consortium, representing advanced energy and cleantech industries, and Elevate Quantum. These applications further cement Colorado’s position as a national leader in expanding US-based technology and innovation while diversifying our state’s economy and creating new, good-paying jobs at home.

"Colorado continues to lead the industries that are powering our future, from clean energy technologies to quantum computing. Businesses are thriving in our state as we continue to create good-paying jobs and boost our strong economy. We will continue to provide support for research and development and look forward to new opportunities through designation as a technology hub," said Gov. Polis. 

Gov. Polis and OEDIT announced the TechHubNow! public-private partnership in April 2023 to respond to a once-in-a-generation opportunity to grow the nation’s advanced and emerging technology industries. Under the CHIPS and Science Act, the EDA is overseeing a competitive process to select 20 federally-designated Tech Hubs across the country, with $500 million in appropriated funding available in 2023 and $10 billion over five years. The applications announced today represent strong and growing industries within Colorado. 

“Colorado’s collaborative ecosystem has led to cutting-edge developments in advanced energy and quantum, making our state a national leader in these important sectors. Securing Tech Hub designations will position our state as a global leader, advancing the technologies of the future while creating good-paying jobs, an inclusive workforce, and a strong, diversified economy with impacts across the State,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT’s Executive Director. 

The Colorado Cleanrange Consortium 

According to research firm Saoradh Enterprise Partners, Colorado’s “Cleanrange” ranks first in the region and fifth in the nation as a cleantech hub, employing more than 61,000 people and seeing over $1 billion in venture capital investment since 2019. The Colorado Cleanrange Consortium proposal seeks to transform this leading, nationally competitive clean energy tech hub into a global leader with three proposed projects. 

Project Innovation will accelerate the development and commercialization of new products, services, and processes to double investment and the number of startups in clean energy innovation. Project Workforce will grow a diverse and inclusive workforce by building interest in STEM early and working with industry partners to help underrepresented rural and urban workers develop new skills and enter the field faster, projected to create 15,000 new jobs. Project Testbeds will test and prove clean energy technologies in complex, integrated, real-world environments, like the flagship microgrid pilot at Denver International Airport which will showcase efficient and cost-effective decarbonization at scale. 

“The Colorado Cleanrange Consortium builds upon more than forty years of partnership which has created a truly unique regional ecosystem of universities, federal labs, research organizations, venture capital firms, public entities, nonprofits and industry partners advancing clean energy technologies,” said Brenna Simmons-St. Onge, Executive Director of the Alliance for Collective Action, which will lead the Colorado Cleanrange Consortium moving forward. 

Research conducted for the application revealed that the advanced energy market, including renewable energy production, infrastructure, and all clean energy technologies, was estimated to be $1.3 trillion globally in 2022 and is expected to surpass $3 trillion by 2033. Colorado’s estimated global market share today is $10.3 billion. With EDA investment, it is projected to grow to $41.2 billion -$46.2 billion over ten years.

Elevate Quantum

The Elevate Quantum Tech Hub application seeks to secure Colorado’s position as the world’s leading hub for quantum information technology. Since 1997, Colorado scientists have earned four Nobel Prizes for work on quantum science and the state is home to the largest number of quantum organizations in the country. Colorado is also one of only two states with multiple large-scale quantum computing companies and the only state with significant quantum infrastructure players in both quantum optics and low-temperature quantum systems.

“Quantum will be as important to the next century as semiconductors were to the last, and Colorado is leading the way,” said Corban Tillemann-Dick, CEO of Maybell Quantum and Chair of Elevate Quantum.  

The opportunity to grow quantum is significant. Quantum computing alone is projected to drive $3.5 trillion in economic growth, with applications in finance, artificial intelligence, and materials analysis already gaining traction.

With Tech Hub designation, Elevate Quantum will accelerate the transition of cutting-edge quantum research from the laboratory to the market, facilitate a vibrant startup and scale-up ecosystem, and build a diverse and inclusive workforce. The consortium plans to launch a Quantum-focused startup accelerator in partnership with Techstars and Access Mode, establish a multi-modal open-access quantum laboratory to fuel start-up growth and tech transfer, and help quantum startups scale into global leaders through loan guarantees and strategic guidance. 

Elevate Quantum also plans to invest in workforce development and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, access and belonging (DEIAB) with the goal of helping 30,000 workers develop new skills for quantum jobs and ensuring equitable access to the industry. The consortium expects to bring $3 billion in funding to Colorado over the next decade. 

Both the Colorado Cleanrange Consortium and Elevate Quantum emphasize workforce development programs and initiatives designed to foster greater equity, diversity and inclusion within advanced energy and quantum, building upon statewide efforts already underway to connect more Coloradans with in-demand, high-skill, high-wage occupations.  

“Colorado has one of the most advanced technology ecosystems in the U.S.,” said Wendy Lea, CEO of Energize Colorado and leader of Tech Hub Now! (THN!) “To elevate the strongest Tech Hub applications, THN! pursued an industry-led, data-informed, and collaborative approach, which has substantially increased the connectivity of Colorado’s innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state, benefiting our state for decades to come.” 

The Colorado Cleanrange Consortium and Elevate Quantum submitted applications to the EDA on August 11, along with a letter of support signed by Gov. Polis, OEDIT’s Executive Director Eve Lieberman and additional state agencies. The EDA is expected to announce selected Tech Hubs in October. EDA Tech Hub designation will be followed by the opportunity to pursue an implementation grant valued at $65 million.    

About Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) works with partners to create a positive business climate that encourages dynamic economic development and sustainable job growth. Under the leadership of Governor Jared Polis, we strive to advance the State’s economy through financial and technical assistance that fosters local and regional economic development activities throughout Colorado. OEDIT offers a host of programs and services tailored to support business development at every level including business retention services, business relocation services, and business funding and incentives. Our office includes the Global Business Development division; Colorado Tourism Office; Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office; Colorado Creative Industries; Business Financing & Incentives division; the Colorado Small Business Development Network; Cannabis Business Office; Colorado Office of Film, TV & Media; the Minority Business Office; Employee Ownership Office; and Rural Opportunity Office. Learn more at oedit.colorado.gov.