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 Innovate Fort Collins

2018 Innovate Fort Collins Challenge Winners Announced

The City of Fort Collins has named five projects winners of the 2018 Innovate Fort Collins Challenge.

The projects were selected from an original list of 19 submissions from businesses and organizations proposing solutions to challenges related to waste materials, transportation, energy and behavior change. Final award dollar amounts are pending approval. Finalists participated in a public pitch night on August 30.

Winning projects:

  • MISSion Innovation by Pretty Brainy
    • The MISSion Innovation project includes hosting a community event for young women ages 14-24 to develop interest, preparation and relevant projects for young innovator and problem solvers to address climate change. 
  • NoCo Tool Lending Library by EcoThrift
    • The NoCo Tool Lending Library is a project to address the community demand for a tool lending library to eliminate overconsumption of tools, decrease the amount of material in the landfill and address social equity challenges through low-cost tool access and education.
  • Taco ‘Bout Solar by Renewablue
    • The Taco 'Bout Solar project will provide neutral, third-party solar education to Fort Collins community members. The strategy is to provide free tacos with free solar information for a winning combination to get curious folks in the room, keep them there, and help them create their path to clean home energy.
  • She’s In Power 3.0 by C3E
    • She's in Power 3.0 is a new program component for mentors and mentees designed to address two key problems: growing a diverse clean energy workforce and scaling the numbers and types of energy-saving projects implemented in Fort Collins.
  • Solar United Neighbors of Colorado by Solar United Neighbors of Colorado
    • To help Fort Collins jumpstart the next wave of solar adoption, Solar United Neighbors proposes to apply a solar bulk purchase model, the solar co-op, to dramatically increase solar penetration by reducing barriers to adoption and cultivating an informed community of solar ambassadors.

Watch the Public Pitch Night (08/30/18)

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.