Colorado has a lot to offer cleantech entrepreneurs, from targeted grants, to easy access to NREL’s technology commercialization resources, to cleantech focused entrepreneurial programs at top research universities, to name just a few. There is no more supportive place in the country to launch a cleantech company, which gives local angels a distinct advantage when investing in this growing, and complex, industry. Colorado knows about investing in cleantech. The only way the community could do more to support cleantech would be to scour the...read more
Energy Fellows Institute Opens Applications for Executives and Entrepreneurs to Bridge Their Talent and Skills into Cleantech
Contact: Shelly Curtiss email@example.com 720-274-9796 Energy Fellows Institute encourages new venture formation, job creation and growth of the cleantech industry DENVER – (April 3, 2013) – As “Cleantech 2.0” blossoms from the lessons learned over the past decade, smart entrepreneurs and corporate executives are looking to leverage the lessons of the past and launch themselves to success in cleantech. The Cleantech Fellows Institute addresses a simple but compelling problem: more seasoned executives are needed everyday to...read more
Robert Welch is one of the Cleantech Fellows Institute’s invaluable Department Heads, co-leading the Technology Transfer curriculum. We asked Robert to share his thoughts about the program.
You have experience in energy efficiency, would you say you have had any “ah-ha” moments in your career?
The low price of energy in the US allowed quite a few wasteful practices to become commonplace. When I noticed every building on a single campus was operating with their heating and cooling systems running simultaneously, I started to realize how widespread the opportunities had become. When I discovered almost every data center is operating 20 degrees colder than required by the computer equipment suppliers, I began to understand huge opportunities were present in virtually every industry.
How did you get into cleantech?
My career started with providing control systems for coal fired utility power plants. That led me to control systems for renewable energy systems including solar, biomass, and hydro.read more
Debra Wilcox is our Advanced Transportation Department Head for the Fellows Institute. We asked Debra to share her thoughts about the program.
You were one of the integral members of the Cleantech Fellows Institute’s team of Department Heads during the inaugural session in 2012. Looking back on the experience, what were a couple of program highlights for you?
At the time I was asked to be a member of the CFI team, I had an idea of what I thought the program would be. My vision was far exceeded by both the participants and the content of the program. The value of the program showed itself in the level of participation from the fellows, the staff and the many guests speakers attracted to the program. The program was about learning, not teaching and each session presented learning opportunities for fellows and presenters alike.
Your background in law, aviation, aerospace and energy is quite impressive. What most excites you about the intersection of cleantech and aviation?
I am a strong proponent of bringing industry sectors together. Through those intersections participants learn from each other and those intereactions spark more innovation. I believe that the Cleantech Fellows Institute has created an innovative culture, not unlike that described by the Edison Achievement Award in describing the work of David Kelley, CEO of IDEO, that is the “development of an innovative culture that has broad impact.” This innovative culture will continue to be the success of the program.read more
Eric Drummond is our Clean Energy Generation Department Head for the Fellows Institute. We asked Eric to share his thoughts about the program.
You have an incredibly varied background in the law, politics and energy. How do you tie these areas of expertise together to help support and grow Colorado’s growing cleantech and renewable energy industries?
I’m very big on collaboration and getting the best people around the table to devise and execute on projects. This collaborative model was something I was exposed to very early in my career when several of us assisted with the formation of one of the largest electric utility holding companies in the U.S. This effort lasted around three years, involved 4 states plus the nation’s capitol and required our group being directly involved with a number of state and federal agencies, and state federal legislatures. I relied on these types of experiences when I was Chairman of the Economic Development Commission and, ultimately, Mayor of my city. Collaborative and creative processes led to a record amount of private investment in our city and allowed us to regain control of our economic future.
I am enjoying supporting our Colorado-based cleantech businesses and assisting with attracting capital and other like-minded businesses to our state. In addition, I believe that it is both rational and lucrative to assist Colorado businesses in developing work in foreign markets where U.S. expertise is in the global forefront of providing energy in energy intensive and emerging economies, while doing so without adding to, or possibly decreasing carbon load in these markets. I generally believe that in the most robust markets in the world there is conscious participation at the highest levels between law, politics and business and I hope to continue to facilitate those kinds of interactions to benefit our nation’s economy and our global climate.read more
In our final installment of our Focus on the Fellows 2012 series, we look to New Jersey native and Boulder resident, Duer Reeves. With a BA in Political Science from Williams College and an MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management, Duer’s background lies mainly in computer systems, spending the majority of his career in various roles at Sun Microsystems, a developer of enterprise computer systems. Aided by Sun’s supportive internal learning and development culture, Duer moved among the company’s divisions from finance to manufacturing operations and planning, to marketing, and then to services. His last move to the services division came with a change in location, which brought the Bay Area resident to Boulder, Colorado where he helped Sun open a new office. When Oracle acquired the company in 2010, Duer decided to branch out on his own and take his passion for large data and analytics with him. The ensuing years as a planning and strategy consultant were where his interest in cleantech really began.
Cleantech appealed to Duer because he recognized the application of his vast experience at Sun to the cleantech industry; he saw an abundance of data produced by the cleantech infrastructure but little actual application of the data. “I learned by working at Sun that you can take data that traditionally has been a byproduct, in Sun’s case it was the data from the transactions system, and apply it to increase efficiency and make a profit.”read more
John Tuttle, founder and former CEO of Skypoint Solar
Our fourth fellow highlighted in our Focus on the Fellows series is John Tuttle, our resident solar expert from Malta, New York. John’s interest in renewable energy began in high school when he became aware of international energy and economic issues. The recognition that many energy-poor nations were essentially being held hostage by energy rich nations intrigued him and presented him with the challenge of finding a solution. “The desire for energy independence and cleaner energy sources was really what drove my passion in renewable energy.”
After graduating from Cornell, John, a passionate skier, spent some time skiing in Vermont before moving to Colorado to pursue his masters degree at the Colorado School of Mines. During his time at Mines, John was introduced to SERI, the Solar Energy Research Institute (now NREL), while doing research for his thesis. Upon completion of his masters, John was drawn back to the east coast where he worked in Boston’s power semi-conductor industry. Eventually SERI/NREL lured him back to Colorado to work at the lab while pursuing his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. John’s research was focused on thin-film compound semi-conductor solar cell materials, mostly CIGS, Copper Indium Gallium Selenide. CIGS showed great promise in the 80’s and John found success, adding a series of world records in efficiency to his name for solar cells he and his associates produced. The patents associated with the processes for creating these cells are still used today.read more
Tony Formby, cofounder of Squirrel POS Systems and angel investor
For the third edition of our Focus on the Fellows we are highlighting Tony Formby, a Vancouver, B.C. native who has lived throughout North America and played an instrumental role in the development of touch screen user interface technology before becoming an angel investor, focusing the majority of his attention on cleantech.
Tony started his professional life in Ottawa, working as an aid to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General. After five years, he realized he had become jaded in his views and wanted different career opportunities. So in his late twenties he moved back to Vancouver, teamed up with a partner, and entered into the restaurant business, owning two restaurants and running a third on behalf of the owners. During the recession of 1980, the restaurant industry was hit hard and only one of Tony’s restaurants survived the tumult. Around this time Tony and his partner decided to move into the computerization of restaurant point of sales (POS) systems. In 1985 they commercialized Squirrel Systems, the first PC-based, touch-screen user interface. Today, Squirrel POS systems is used by heavyweights such as Apple, Holiday Inn, and Applebee’s.read more
Tom McKinnon, Professor Emeritus at the Colorado School of Mines and Director of InventWorks
In our second installment of Focus on the Fellows, we highlight Tom McKinnon, managing director of InventWorks Inc. and Professor Emeritus at Colorado School of Mines. Tom has followed a fascinating career path that has included work at NREL (when it was the Solar Energy Research Institute); TDA Research, a small contract research company; University of Colorado; Colorado School of Mines, researching combustion biofuels, “green” fire suppression, and new materials for lithium batteries; Fullerene Sciences Inc., a nanomaterials company; Novare Biofuels; and Boulder ElectroRide, which made high-performance electric motorcycles. Tom even has experience on the legislative side from when he cofounded a bill for the Colorado ballot to place a small carbon tax on natural gas.
So how did Tom find his way to the field of cleantech? Energy had been on Tom’s mind for quite some time, and the field of alternative energy was of particular interest to him but he wasn’t sure where to start. Fate seemed to intervene when he went to a job interview in Boston during his senior year at Cornell University and shared a cab with a man who would eventually become his boss at SERI. After a few years at SERI, he went east to get his PhD in Chemical Engineering at MIT, researching combustion, and then continued to follow a path in research and energy.read more