CU Denver’s Growing Research Enterprise Fuels Partnership with Colorado Smart Cities Alliance 

August 3, 2021

CU Denver and the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance (the Alliance), a nonprofit organization, have announced a new strategic partnership that will build on their previous collaborations and bridge the nation’s largest statewide smart cities ecosystem with Colorado’s only public urban research university.  

Through this partnership, CU Denver and the Alliance will be able to provide communities throughout Colorado access to new technologies to support the growth of smart cities. By focusing on innovative, next-generation solutions to community-identified problems, such as increasing energy grid resilience and reducing transportation-related environmental impacts, CU Denver will provide research, education, and talent to address them. Through its physical co-location on the CU Denver campus, the Alliance’s staff have access to the university’s world-class faculty and students, and the Alliance brings a built-in ecosystem of government and business stakeholders.  

“The world is urbanizing quickly, and in some cases, faster than the infrastructure can accommodate,” said Nolbert Chavez, CU Regent and Executive Director of CU Denver’s CityCenter. “With 70% of the population projected to live in an urban setting by the year 2050, cities are primed to lead the charge on smart technology to enhance our way of life. Part of CU Denver’s Strategic Plan is to become an anchor institution in our emerging global city. Through our research and partnerships, we’ll bring Denver to the forefront of innovation and help guide other cities into economic and technological growth.”  

CU Denver’s partnership with the Alliance comes at a time when the university is continuing to expand its commitment to placemaking, sustainability, and enhancing the quality of life in the city and region. The university will launch a new certificate which provides graduate-level curricula across departments and disciplines focused on how technology and innovation can be used to manage the increase in infrastructure challenges.  

The Alliance has been working to facilitate additional partnerships between their members and CU Denver. Alliance member, Trimble, supports the CU Denver Trimble Technology Lab and has established a scholarship fund at the university to provide financial support to students destined to become the industry leaders of the future.  

“The rapidly accelerating smart cities industry is using advanced technologies like the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to address community needs in innovative ways,” says Tyler Svitak, Executive Director of the Alliance. “We’re excited to partner across schools and colleges within CU Denver to help governments and businesses understand, analyze and measure the impact that smart cities applications may have with an informed, neutral, academic perspective that government and business cannot bring on their own.”  

CU Denver and the Alliance have a connected history that includes other joint efforts and touch points that have already produced meaningful results.  

  • CU Denver researchers are studying the use of vehicle-to-building electric vehicle charging stations, which take energy from an electric vehicle to charge the buildings during peak energy events. The Alliance facilitated the state’s first deployment of this technology at two sites in Colorado in partnership with Fermata Energy, the Alliance Center, Colorado Carshare and the City of Boulder. The technology can be used to decrease building energy costs, reduce peak energy demand on the utility grid, and provide resilient backup power in case of emergencies.  
  • CU Denver was selected as a winner in the Alliance’s Revive! Challenge, which will leverage advanced algorithmic modeling, called the Business Commute Optimization System (BCOS), to optimize commuter travel behavior and minimize environmental impact in partnership with transportation management associations, several cities and the business community. The Alliance is connecting the CU Denver-incubated startup company with deployment partners for testing and demonstration.  
  • John Tolva, one of the founders of the Alliance and the current chair of the Alliance’s Board of Directors, is a CU Denver scholar in residence and is leading development of the new certificate program, anchored by a course in smart cities he created with the School of Public Affairs.  

In celebration of the new chapter of this collaboration, CU Denver and The Alliance will co-host Civic Lab, an inaugural event on Friday, September 17, bringing public and private sector experts together with academic experts focused on applying data and technology to enhance the quality of life in urban centers.