Top Ten Highlights of Colorado Cleantech Industry Association

The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA) was established in 2008 and is a statewide organization devoted to the promotion of the cleantech industry within the state of Colorado. Currently, the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association is the only industry led and industry focused cleantech group in the entire state. Their mission is “to provide advocacy, public policy leadership, development, and education in the cleantech sector.” The association provides forums for networking and communication, a full calendar of educational programs, coordinated planning, strong partnerships with various research institutions, and leadership on a number of statewide programs and policy initiatives. Those who have joined the cluster include cleantech development businesses, businesses offering cleantech professional and technical support, research and academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and public sector agencies.

1) Created the Colorado Cleantech Action Plan. The CCIA released the Colorado Cleantech Action Plan in October 2010. The Action Plan identifies the assets of cleantech within the state and offers a number of detailed actions that need to be taken to ensure that the state’s cleantech sector expands. The United States Department of Commerce awarded an $80,000 Economic Development Administration Grant to the CCIA to assist in building the state’s Cleantech Action Plan. The Executive Director of the Association, Christine Shapard, stated that “Such efforts will continue to make Colorado the location of choice for top cleantech companies and drive cleantech-related job growth in the future.” Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter agreed with the action plan by stating that “the cleantech industry is one of the main drivers of the state’s economy and therefore needs increased support.”

2) Provide Advocacy. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association has been extremely involved in advocating for support of the cleantech industry within the state and on local and federal levels. The advocacy CCIA provides guarantees that the large number of cleantech companies within the state are heard when it comes to current energy legislation The CCIA’s Public Policy Committee, along with input from technology specific working groups, supports measures that: grow the research and development pipeline of clean technologies; increases the speed of technology transfer; enhances the ability to move clean technologies to the marketplace and; promote a cleantech friendly business climate.

3) Connects the Cleantech Cluster. CCIA works to coordinate numerous investors, entrepreneurs, research institutions, and academics interested in the cleantech sector. Through committee participation, educational programs, working groups, and networking events, the CCIA is able to bring together Colorado’s diverse cleantech cluster. The working groups and committees are dedicated to the long term development of the State’s cleantech industry as a whole as well as expansion of the Association itself.

4) CREED ACCEL Program. Together with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, CCIA recently announced the CREED ACCEL Series. The series, which stands for “Center for Renewable Energy and Economic Development – Accelerating Cleantech and Clean Energy Leaders,” provides an open, interactive, monthly forum for entrepreneurs, investors, and cleantech support organizations to meet, learn from, and link up with one another. Each session incorporates a presentation from a local cleantech expert in addition to “pitches” from two early stage companies. These companies are then provided with critique on their pitch from members of the local angel, venture and entrepreneurial community.

5) Membership Makeup. The approximately 200 members of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association come from different backgrounds, including Colorado-based cleantech businesses, investment companies, government organizations, non-profits, and research institutes, including Altira Group, KPMG, Lockheed Martin, Spirae, the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development, Rocky Mountain Institute, CoorsTek and Abound Solar.

6) Cleantech capital development. As current levels of state, federal and private funding for commercialization are insufficient, the CCIA has taken a leading role in working to build the state’s available capital. Current initiatives include Senate Bill 11-047, the “Colorado Bioscience and Clean Technology Innovation and Reinvestment Act” and Senate Bill 11-174, the “Fund of Funds.” Increasing funding for early stage companies and technology acceleration will strengthen the foundation of Colorado’s cleantech industry.

7) Supports a Variety of Cleantech Events. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association develops and co-sponsors a number of events and other opportunities for those associated with and interested in the cleantech industry. In 2011, CCIA will be launching an awards program to recognize the cutting edge work being done in the state’s university laboratories. CCIA was a supporting organization for the 2011 Mission Critical Water Virtual Summit, they are a sponsor of the University of Colorado’s RETool program to educate executives on the renewable energy industry and they have been an integral part in assisting with the CO-Exist program that promotes Colorado cleantech exports to China and Mexico. In 2010, CCIA developed or partnered on more than 30 programs and events.

8 ) Introduction of the Colorado Cleantech Awards Celebration. In 2010, the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association held its first ever “Colorado Cleantech Awards Celebration.” The celebration elevated the awareness of cleantech opportunities in Colorado by awarding Colorado-based companies that have been instrumental in advancing cleantech both locally and nationally. The awards included High-Impact Cleantech Company of the Year, Breakout Cleantech Company of the Year, Emerging Cleantech Company of the Year, and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Cleantech Leadership.

9) Partnering with Several Large Organizations and Companies. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association is partnered with a number of local, state and national organizations. This includes CORE, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping companies understand and implement sustainability policies and practices into their operations, the Metro Denver EDC’s Colorado Energy Coalition – a diverse organization dedicated to strengthening the business climate in all energy sectors in Colorado, and the GridWise Alliance – the national organization that represents a broad range of the energy supply chain from utilities to large tech companies. These diverse partnerships ensure broad communication, collaboration and outreach for Colorado’s cleantech community.

10) Outreach Sponsor of the NREL Industry Growth Forum. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Industry Growth Forum is the premier event for innovative clean energy start-ups to maximize their exposure to receptive venture capital, corporate investors, and strategic partners. Since 2003, the presenting seed, early stage, and expanding cleantech companies have collectively raised more than $3.4 billion in growth financing.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10” series. He can be reached at

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