SolarTAC’s Dustin Smith claims CCIA ‘Innovator of Year’ award for 2017

By: Steve Porter Thursday October 26, 2017 0 comments Tags: Boulder, CCIA, Colorado Cleantech Awards, Shelly Curtiss, Dustin Smith, SolarTAC, GridNxt, Blake Jones, Tony Wibbeler, Chris Shepard, Kevin Priola

BOULDER -- Dustin Smith, executive director of Aurora-based SolarTAC, was named “Innovator of the Year” on Wednesday during Colorado Cleantech Industries Association’s 2017 Annual Awards Celebration in Boulder.ccia-2017-awards-insideuse

SolarTAC, which opened in 2011, is a world-class facility for demonstrating and validating the most advanced solar technologies now available.

Under Smith’s leadership, the 74-acre site is about to add “GridNxt,” a test bed for solar-enabling products and components that will give organizations the ability to cost effectively test new technologies without having to build a working micro-grid from scratch.

In accepting the award, Smith said earning it was hard “but you don’t do it alone but with hundreds of people rowing in the same direction.”

Smith said GridNxt is expected to finish its final construction “in about 20 days” and he invited the curious to come and visit to see what it can do.

Smith edged out Blake Jones, Clean Energy Credit Union, and Tony Wibbeler, Bolder industries, in claiming the Innovator of the Year Award.

CCIA awards also went to Enbala Power Network for High Impact Cleantech Company; AMP Robotics for Emerging Cleantech Company; Kevin Priola for Colorado Legislator of the Year and Solid Power and SunTech Drive tied for Breakout Cleantech Company.

The evening also featured regional award finalists for the Cleantech Open Rocky Mountain Region. Idaho-based Inergy Solar and Colorado-based RenewWest were selected to attend the Cleantech Open’s annual Global Forum in Los Angeles in January, with Colorado-based Hyperion named as an alternate.

Cleantech Open is a global accelerator for early-stage tech startup companies in the cleantech space.ccia-2017-awards-logo

Cleantech Open connects startups with the people, resources and visibility to help them succeed. Since 2005, the Cleantech Open has awarded more than $6 million in cash and services to cleantech startups, and the 1,000-plus companies in the Cleantech Open’s accelerator programs have raised more than $1.1 billion in external capital.

Shelly Curtiss, who has served as CCIA’s interim director for the past four months following the departure of former Executive Director Chris Shepard, was officially named permanent director during Wednesday’s festivities.

Curtiss said this year marked another year of celebrating the state’s best cleantech companies and the jobs and economic vitality they bring to the state.

“The winners are great every year,” she said. “We are so fortunate to have such a great cohort of companies, and they all support each other. It’s a great spirit of collaboration.”

Sponsors for this year’s awards celebration included Cleantech Open, Metro Denver EDC, EKS&H, CSU Ventures, Energy Institute, Colorado School of Mines, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), Faegre Baker Daniels, Chubb, Colorado Business Bank, KPMG and newresourcebank.

Steve Porter

About the Author: Steve Porter

Steve Porter, editor of InnovatioNews, has more than 20 years of newspaper experience in reporting, editing and managing news organizations. Steve brings a deep knowledge of the Colorado business landscape and award-winning writing and editing skills to the project.