Mission Values

Make Southwest CO a coordinated hub of innovation by

  • bringing together loosely connected efforts to
  • inspire idea creation,
  • cultivate new and existing business innovation, and
  • build the eco-system to reveal and support sustainable outcomes

SWIC is a neutral coordinator, convener and capacity building initiative of the Telluride Foundation, and is supported by many key partners, practicing a bottom up approach to foster economic diversity and sustainability in the rural southwest.


Partners: New and existing entrepreneurs and innovators in the 8 county region of Southwest Colorado (San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose, Delta, Montezuma, Dolores, San Juan and La Plata); Telluride Venture Accelerator; Ft. Lewis College; Regions 9 & 10 Economic Development Districts; Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs; co-working spaces and SBDC’s.

Funding Partners: Economic Development Administration i6 challenge grant program; Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade Advanced Industries Infrastructure Grant program; Johnson Family Foundation.


  • Focus on 2 main targets for innovation-based ideas - new entrepreneurs and existing businesses with new ideas.
  • Use entrepreneurship resources to provide assistance in moving ideas through feasibility to new innovation-based startups.
  • Surround with supportive eco-system for maximum success and replication.


  • Diversify the economy – over reliance on extraction, tourism and construction
  • Move needle towards innovation – based economy
  • Leverage momentum and success of TVA and Telluride eco-system development
  • Maximize access to resources and talent throughout the region
  • Increase overall economic activity
  • Promote industries with career jobs, grow middle class and opportunities for youth
  • Bring more talent to area
  • Grow access to capital


  • Build capacity of existing organizations and communities and initiate new activities in conjunction with partners
    • Support community brainstorming and program development.
    • Job training – facilitate regional access to appropriate training and potential hires, i.e. coding school programs.
    • Co-working and makerspaces – support creation and access to programs
    • Regional mentor matching – through partnership of TVA mentor group and additional regional mentors.
    • Small business training (retail / higher growth) – support SBDCs, Accelerators, Meetups and Co-working efforts, offer additional programs as needed.
    • Regional networking events – support existing meetups, Startup Weekends and other convenings. 
    • Regional job board – support efforts of local Workforce Boards, LaunchWestCo, Built in Colorado and other resources.
    • SWIC internship program – provide connector role, funding and cohort support to maximize impact for companies and interns.
    • Angel group and regional fund expansion – connect resources and groups, and facilitate connections and events to expand pool of available capital.
  • New entrepreneurs
    • Ft. Lewis Engineering school partnership – provide curriculum, training and proof of concept program. Support College-wide entrepreneurship efforts.
  • Existing businesses
    • Regional industry cluster mashups – identify key technology and industry sectors for region and design “mashups” to tease out innovation opportunities, then support advancement of ideas through the innovation funnel.
    • Innovation Think Tank - explore commercialization path for interesting technologies from faculty and other sources.

Measuring Success

  • Participation
  •  Innovation-based company creation
  • Economic activity – investment, GDP growth, diversity distribution, jobs