The University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver) in partnership with Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and Innosphere Ventures, announced that they were awarded a $2 million dollar grant to launch a smart cities incubator and accelerator program, which will support workforce development in critical tech industries and create more than 200 jobs.
The grant is part of a larger statewide initiative being led by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, who announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is committed to investing $3.1 million in Colorado through grants to support the growth of high-tech business and cybersecurity workforce development.
“The Economic Development Administration investment will catalyze CU Denver’s innovation infrastructure, increasing educational opportunities for all and fueling the diverse tech talent pipeline of the future,” said CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks, PhD.
Creating Certificate Programs for Tech Related Careers
CU Denver, in partnership with the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance and Innosphere Ventures, will use the grant to develop Smart Cities certificate programs for undergraduate students and mid-career professionals interested in a variety of tech-related careers. The EDA investment will also be used to install 5G equipment for a “living lab” that will support the development, testing, and deployment of smart cities prototype products and services.
The grant exemplifies CU Denver’s commitment to providing hands-on learning experiences to learners of all ages and cultivating an innovation community dedicated to collaboration, sustainability, and economic growth for the region and the state.
Supporting Access to the Tech Industry for Underrepresented Communities
“From artificial intelligence that improves traffic flow to sensors that monitor local environmental quality, smart cities are using today’s technology to build tomorrow’s infrastructure,” said Tyler Svitak, Executive Director of the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance. “Most importantly, these programs will prioritize access to communities largely underrepresented in the technology industry, including BIPOC, women and people with disabilities. With a once-in-a-generation investment in new infrastructure, there is no better time to ensure the people suffering from the inequities of today’s cities are building the cities of tomorrow.”
Under the American Rescue Plan, the EDA was allocated supplemental funding to assist communities nationwide by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks, according to a media advisory from EDA.
“President Biden is committed to supporting communities as they seek to create new opportunities to spur business growth and create jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These EDA investments will provide the resources Coloradans need to spur growth in the critical high-technology and cybersecurity sectors.”
CU Denver, Smart Cities Alliance, and Innosphere Ventures expect outcomes from this initiative will have a positive ripple effect across the state, enhancing quality of life, safety, and mobility while reducing the consumption of energy, water, and other natural resources.