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 Innovate Fort Collins

Registration Open for Public Pitch Night August 30

Six community finalists will pitch their ideas to help Fort Collins achieve carbon reduction goals at a public forum August 30 at the Lincoln Center.

The public pitch night for the Climate Action Plan’s Innovate Fort Collins Challenge will be 5:30-8 p.m. in the Magnolia Theatre. Registration is required due to limited seating. Tickets are required to enter the theater and will be distributed at the Lincoln Center that evening.

The finalists include a broad range of businesses and organizations proposing solutions to challenges related to waste materials, transportation, energy and behavior change. The projects selected to participate in pitch night are:

  • She's in Power 3.0, submitted by Colorado C3E – operating body of Colorado Clean Energy Cluster;
  • Healthy Environments through Activity and Responsible Transportation (HEART), submitted by CSU and partners;
  • MISSion Innovation, submitted by Pretty Brainy;
  • NoCo Tool Lending Library, submitted by Eco Thrift
  • Solar United Neighbors Solar Cooperative, submitted by Solar United Neighbors of Colorado; and
  • TacoBout Solar, submitted by Renewablue

Finalists will provide a brief overview of their projects at the Pitch Night event, which will make up 15 percent of their overall score. Judges include members of the City’s volunteer Boards and Commissions.

Register for Pitch Night

Key Dates

  • April 18, 2018: Application website opens
  • May 18: Letter of Intent due by 5 p.m. Letter of intent.
  • July 9: Full application due by noon (by invitation only) Full application.
  • July 27: Finalists notified
  • August 30: Public Pitch Night
  • Mid-September: Awardees announced

2017 Grant Recipients

The City of Fort Collins awarded five Innovate Fort Collins Challenge grants worth about $265,000 in 2017 to help the community reduce its carbon footprint by 2020 and beyond. Based on the scores from the August 3 public pitch night and overall judging, the winners of the competition:

  • Spring Back Colorado ($75,000) for scaling its Fort Collins business where it provides redemptive employment opportunities through recycling of bed mattresses and box springs.
  • Front Range Community College ($65,212) for a learning project that uses a solar photovoltaic panel and electric vehicle charging station at the Harmony Library.
  • Colorado State University ($44,550) for development and implementation of an online transportation and safety education module for incoming freshmen.
  • Insecticycle LLC ($40,000) for a pilot-scale facility to demonstrate a cradle-to-cradle food waste diversion process using black solider fly larvae.
  • Poudre School District ($40,000) for testing food composting technology in middle schools.

A total of $264,762 was awarded in this first round of the challenge with a second round scheduled in 2018. This first round also leveraged $60,000 of re-appropriated money from the Advanced Waste Stream Optimization Offer, which allowed additional waste diversion and recycling projects to be funded.

Watch the Public Pitch Night (08/03/17)

Updates on 2017 Winners

Spring Back Colorado

Spring Back Colorado Mattress Recycling

The four new employees at Spring Back CO North.


Spring Back Colorado’s Fort Collins location has recycled 1,865 mattress and box spring sets monthly since hiring four new employees with help from Innovate Fort Collins funding. This is an increase of 73% since the project started in November 2017. The funding has allowed Spring Back to support and train new employees hired through a redemptive employment model. By the end of April 2018, this project had reduced about 700 metric tons of CO2e emissions.

Front Range Community College

Solar Learning Project

New solar array at the Harmony Library.


If you’ve been to the Harmony Library lately, you may have seen this new solar array or maybe even plugged in your electric vehicle. This new installation is part of Front Range Community College’s Solar Learning project funded by the Innovate Fort Collins Challenge. Students helped install this array and two EV chargers in May. This phase of the project is complete, but the College has additional phases planned that include working with a local non-profit, Pretty Brainy, to provide solar learning workshops with middle- and high-school students.

Colorado State University

Online Transportation Module

A sample graphic from CSU’s animated videos.


CSU is making progress on developing an online transportation module that will educate incoming freshmen on transportation alternatives, traffic laws and best practices for cyclists. CSU’s interdepartmental project team is developing a pilot module to launch at the beginning of the 2018 fall semester. The project will include six animated videos, incentives for participation during the pilot, and rigorous evaluation of the module’s impact.

Insecticycle LLC

Demonstration of Food Waste Recovery

Michael Lolly of Insecticycle with his black solider fly larvae friends.


Insecticycle is working to develop a scalable processing system for a wide variety of organic materials including food waste and brewer’s grain. The goal of the first few months was to build a “laboratory scale” model, increase processing capacity and provide real-world metrics for a proposed full-scale system. The project is growing daily to reach the projected capacity of 50 gallons of waste.

Poudre School District

Compost Demo

The BioCoTech BioSpeed Aerobic digester in a trailer located at Lesher Middle School.


As part of the Innovate Fort Collins Challenge, Poudre School District purchased its first aerobic in-vessel composting machine to support middle school curriculum on food life cycles and to provide a solution to handle food waste within the district. Despite some glitches with the shipping of the unit from Europe, the digester is up and running and will be operated by students starting in fall 2018. This project expects to divert up to 200 tons of organic waste and reduce CO2e emissions by about 1,700 metric tons by the end of the pilot.