Federal & Industry Research Partnerships

Industry Partnerships

CU-Boulder has a long history of partnering with industry and is putting new attention to expanding those partnerships. The Office of Industry Connection has been created to help us establish vital partnerships with businesses across the country and abroad, sharing the world-class expertise of our faculty and helping businesses generate new products, new technologies and new economic growth. Serving as an identified point of contact, the industry office will connect companies to the services, expertise and capabilities available at CU-Boulder. In addition, the office will support campus researchers who have made connections with industry partners and are ready to move forward with a contract or project. For more information see the Office of Industry Collaboration.

Research Partnerships

CU-Boulder consistently reaches beyond campus boundaries to form strategic research partnerships which have proven highly productive.

The university is home to three of the highly prized NSF-funded research centers:

  • The Extreme Ultraviolet Engineering Research Center is operated jointly with Colorado State University and the University of California at Berkeley. To help meet the needs of the emerging industry the Center has formed a broadly based Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) with members from small, medium and large corporations, with as wide as possible scientific and technical interests. Their goal is to have a broad impact on science and technology, from small scale university research to large scale manufacturing.
  • The Liquid Crystals Materials Research Center, one of the leading centers of liquid crystal study in the world, fosters collaboration among CU-Boulder's physics, chemistry, and chemical engineering departments. The Center currently has ongoing interactions with nearly every US company with an interest in this field. Industrially supported research at the Center focuses on critical issues and problems of direct relevance to commercialization of FLCs, such as alignment, response speed and development techniques for achieving analog gray scale.
  • The Center for Membrane Applied Science & Technology (MAST) is a Multi-site Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (MUC I/UCRC), headquartered at CU-Boulder with sites at other affiliated universities.

Federal Laboratory Partners

Over the course of 50-plus years, the university has formed highly productive research partnerships with national laboratories located in the Boulder area. Collaborative efforts include large joint institutes with hundreds of scientists as well as university departmental appointments of adjoint faculty from the national laboratories. The national labs also provide numerous internships for undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral traineeships and fellowships at CU-Boulder.

These cooperative relationships have contributed to the university's world-renowned research on matters of atmospheric research, science and technology, and environmental research.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Among the largest of CU-Boulder's joint institutes is CIRES (the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences), which was established in 1967 from a partnership between the university and NOAA. CIRES scientists conduct research aimed at understanding the Earth, including its atmosphere, waters, solid body, and environment in space.

In particular, NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder has established extensive partnerships with university faculty, postdocs and graduate students. CU's National Snow and Ice Data Center also works closely with the NOAA on studies of sea ice conditions.

Including the work at CIRES, it is estimated that about 60 faculty and 240 graduate students and postdocs work closely with counterparts at NOAA.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Another major joint institute is JILA, created in 1962 as a joint institute of CU-Boulder and NIST. Scientists in JILA explore challenging questions about quantum physics, the design of precision optics and atom lasers, the fundamental nature of matter, biotechnology, nanoscience, and processes that shape the stars and galaxies. The university's partnership with NIST has been further strengthened through enhanced joint support for undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs.

About 80 faculty and 160 postdocs and students are engaged in regular collaborations with NIST, including the work at JILA.

National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

Numerous CU-Boulder faculty and students work closely with counterparts at NCAR in a wide range of studies related to atmospheric and Earth sciences. University-NCAR collaborations include large-scale computational modeling, atmospheric physics, geosciences, high-altitude observations, solar physics, weather modeling, remote sensing and balloon-satellite technology, and solar influences, to name a few.

The university also is engaged in discussions with computational science and engineering groups at both NCAR and NOAA related to possible collaborations on high-end, high-performance computing and "gateway" computing for peta-scale supercomputing centers planned in Wyoming.

Numerous CU-Boulder faculty work closely with NCAR scientists, and about 40 university postdocs and graduate students conduct a majority of their research at NCAR.

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)

NCAR is managed by UCAR, a nonprofit consortium of 73 research universities and institutions, on behalf of the National Science Foundation and the university community. Located in Boulder, UCAR has several projects involving CU-Boulder faculty and graduate students.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

The university promotes its strong interest in renewable energy through collaborations with NREL in Golden, Colorado. In fact, CU-Boulder is a major partner in the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, which was selected in 2008 as the management contractor for NREL. CU-Boulder and other members of the alliance are engaged in basic and applied science as well as translational efforts to develop third-generation solar photovoltaic's, solar photoconversion, concentrated solar technology, biofuels, biorefining, wind energy, and carbon sequestration techniques, among many others.

The closely aligned and campus-wide Energy Initiative, launched in fall 2005 culminated in the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) in June 2009 which is a joint institute with NREL.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

In other collaborations with national labs, the university is working with USGS to expand its presence on the East Campus, leading to as many as 80 additional USGS scientists and staff on the campus. Headquarters for the National Ecological Observation Network, an NSF center, have been moved from the Washington, DC area to Boulder, with plans for joint graduate education, high-end computing, joint faculty hires, and adjoint professor appointments at the university.

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