Colorado Innovation Council

Last Thursday, I shared the stage at the CSIA DEMOgala 2007 with Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.  During his speech, Governor Ritter announced the formation of the Colorado Innovation Council.  I’m one of three co-chairs, along with Juan Rodriguez (co-founder of StorageTek and Exabyte) and Phil Weiser (professor of law at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a national telecommunications policy expert.)

Phil and I have been working with Governor Ritter and his staff to form this since the beginning of the year.  One of our goals was to create an organization that could have real impact, rather than just a collection of people who’s names would go on a web site and letterhead somewhere.  We spent plenty of time talking to various folks both in and out of government who have been involved in things like this in the past and, as a result of our research, are hopeful that we’ve created an organization of “doers” vs. either “figureheads” or “pontificators.”

Now, before you say – “but wait, didn’t we go through this in 2000 when then Governor Owens declared that “Colorado is now an undisputed leader of the world technology revolution” – let’s hit pause (or reset) and try again.  Ritter’s goal, of being “bold, ambitious and innovative when it comes to maximizing the use of technology” is much more interesting to me and one I’m behind.  I have no desire to see Colorado become “the next Silicon Valley” (if I wanted to be in Silicon Valley, I’d move to Silicon Valley.)  However, I’m a deep believer that a state like Colorado can continually improve and I’m proud to be part of an effort to work with the public sector to make an already great state even better.

The Colorado Innovation has three initiatives:

  1. State IT: Assist the state as it reforms and improve its use of information technology
  2. Ubiquitous Broadband: Develop a strategy for spurring broadband deployment throughout the state
  3. IT Entrepreneurship: Support state government’s economic development efforts for the technology sector

Each of the three co-chairs have taken a leadership role with one of these initiatives and is working with a subcommittee of about 10 high tech leaders.  I’m leading State IT, Phil is handling Ubiquitous Broadband, and Juan is leading IT Entrepreneurship.  There will be plenty of crossover between committees (e.g. many of the folks on State IT are also Colorado-based IT Entrepreneurs and vice versa.)

I’m working with the State CIO – Mike Locatis – on the State IT initiative.  Our goal is a simple one – support Mike in his efforts to drive a multi-year IT consolidation throughout the state that ultimately results in appropriate centralizations of the state’s IT infrastructure.  Currently, Colorado is operating under a massively decentralized IT model, which is horribly inefficient and very ineffective.  As a first step of acknowledging the importance of the IT infrastructure to the functioning of state government, Governor Ritter elevated the CIO to a cabinet-level post.

I’ve been really impressed with all of my interactions with Mike around this.  Governor Ritter’s commitment to getting some real stuff done here is exciting and the idea that the private sector can work with the public sector to move these three initiatives forward is attractive to me.

Overall, there are about 30 Colorado superstars involved in this initiative – look for me to write more about it as we start getting stuff done.