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University of Denver Promotes Colorado at UN General Assembly

DU's Project X-ITE will partner with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade on a local Solutions Summit this October


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This week marked the opening of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with the General Debate opening Tuesday, September 19, for an annual gathering of world leaders and heads of state, who this year debated on the theme: Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet.

For three days, the University of Denver’s JB Holston, Dean of the Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science, and Nina Sharma, managing director of Project X-ITE, hunkered down at UN headquarters, serving as education partners for the Solutions Summit, an annual catalytic program aimed at advancing the work of entrepreneurs developing and implementing solutions to fulfill the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The University of Denver’s involvement originally came about last fall, when Holston and Sharma attended the Solutions Summit at the UN, hosted by Megan Smith, former U.S. Chief Technology Officer appointed by President Barack Obama. That event inspired the Project X-ITE team to launch Flight to Denver in March. In partnership with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the UN Foundation, Flight to Denver launched a bootcamp bringing 15 former Solutions Summit companies to the Mile High City for a weekend of mentoring, workshops and problem solving.

“After meeting these global solution-makers at the UN Solutions Summit last year, we realized the Sustainable Development Goals were a great framework to accelerate DU’s mission to educate global leaders to address grand global challenges,” says Holston. “Our first step was Flight to Denver, which brought more than 200 Coloradans together to help the great international innovators who were selected from thousands of applicants through the first two global Solution Summits.”

The teams that formed during Flight to Denver continued to collaborate throughout the next six months, with impressive results. One of those companies, SafeCity – a platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces –  launched its first U.S.-based chapter in Denver, September 22, in partnership with student leadership from the DU and Regis University.

Flight to Denver was the first event of its kind in Colorado. As such, it served as a catalyst for myriad collaborations and opportunities, leveraging the community’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem. Based on the success of Flight to Denver, Project X-ITE has partnered with the Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office to launch a Colorado Solutions Summit October 27-29.

“The next vital step to achieving the global goals is to scout and scale local solution makers everywhere around the world,” says Holston. “DU and Project X-ITE are excited to facilitate this first-ever local SDG accelerator in partnership with the Governor’s office to support great Colorado entrepreneurs who are addressing the world’s most compelling challenges and goals.”

The Colorado Solutions Summit will accelerate Colorado companies working to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as bring the SDGs local and create communities of purpose around them.

“I had the opportunity to sit with Megan Smith last spring, and learned more about the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Hickenlooper. “These 17 goals are applicable in Colorado just as much as they are in developing countries. Companies right here at home are working on things such as clean water, eliminating poverty and improving heath.” 

Back in New York, Holston and Sharma rolled up their sleeves this week, working hand-in-hand with global entrepreneurs tackling everything from providing mobile access for girls’ education in Afghanistan to using satellites to track cattle patterns in Uruguay. The Denver duo spoke on stage alongside Smith in the SDG Media Zone on the plaza of the UN Headquarters to share insights and highlight Colorado’s ongoing commitment to the stated goals.  

“Colorado is the best place to bring these goals local – our collaborative spirit can serve as the model for the rest of the country and the world as to how to support our startups and entrepreneurs,” says Hickenlooper. “We are a state full of solution-makers and global innovation leaders, and we are thrilled to bring the Solutions Summit to Colorado this fall.”

The Colorado Solutions Summit will take place from October 26-29 in Denver. Applications are still open to participate as an entrepreneur or mentor. Project X-ITE will select 10-12 Colorado companies to participate.

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ColoradoBiz staff

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