Open house for partnerships

Inaugural summit brings industry, policy leaders to Boulder

July 11, 2013 | Business cards, introductions, and timely briefings were the order of the day on July 2, as Center Green played host to a wide spectrum of invited guests from across the weather, climate, and water enterprise. The event was the first-ever NCAR/UCAR Industry Summit on the Future of Forecasting.

Mari Jones, Cindy Bruyere (NESL/MMM) meet with Industry Summit attendee
Mari Jones and Cindy Bruyère  (NESL/MMM) meet with Nathaniel Reynolds of Buffalo Tree Consulting. (all photos ©UCAR, by Carlye Calvin.)

Designed to foster new collaborations that could lead to enhanced funding, the event drew more than 100 attendees, including a number of CEOs and business/development officers from large and small companies alike. There were also a number of attendees from government agencies and universities.

NCAR and UCP put their best foot forward, with many scientists swapping their usual Boulder-casual wardrobe for business attire. In conversations at booths surrounding the CG auditorium, and in presentations on a stage in the lobby, staff members described how their work could be applied in public safety, energy efficiency, and many other areas relevant to society.

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Former U.S. representative David Skaggs chats with Tom Bogdan before one of the summit presentations in the CG lobby. 

The benefits flowed both ways, said George Bryan (NESL/MMM). “The biggest surprise for me was learning what people are doing at other companies. They’re here to tell us what they do, and vice versa.”

Gabi Pfister (NESL/ACD) also found the two-way dialogue useful. For example, she said, “I didn’t realize how many environmental consulting firms we have in Boulder.”

The attendees included a Nobel Prize winner: CU’s Tom Cech, director of the Boulder-based BioFrontiers Institute. Also on hand were past and present U.S. representatives from our district, David Skaggs and Jared Polis. After a few remarks to the assembled group, Polis chatted with several participants, including wildfire researcher Janice Coen (NESL/MMM), the UCP/COSMIC team, and SOARS protégé Jenine McCoy, who is investigating atmospheric electrification with mentors in HAO and RAL.

Olga Wilhelmi
Olga Wilhelmi (RAL) covered drought in her presentation to summit attendees. 

”My hat is off to the team that pulled this event off,” said Scott Rayder, senior advisor to UCAR president Tom Bogdan. Scott conceived of the event as a way to reach beyond standard circles of collaboration.

"The day highlighted the relevance and applicability of our science to the marketplace,” Scott said. “We can serve society with innovations that not only save lives but empower people to make good business decisions based on the best science."

David Hosansky led the event planning, working closely with specialists from UCP/JOSS and colleagues from the UCAR President’s Office, as well as several administrators in NCAR and UCP. “It was a terrific effort across the organization,” David said.

Bill Mahoney, Jared Polis, Tom Bogdan, Janice Coen
Bill Mahoney (RAL), Rep. Jared Polis, and Tom Bogdan discuss wildfire research with Janice Coen (NESL/MMM).

Showing that UCAR is ready to do business, F&A contracts director Gina Taberski and UCAR associate general counsel Sarah Pritchard were on hand to answer questions.

“Participants were clearly very interested in the research we are doing,” said Gina. “Those from industry I spoke to were also interested in our business model, especially how we share research and intellectual property."

It will take awhile for contacts made at the summit to evolve into funded projects, but important groundwork was laid, according to Scott. Organizers reported enthusiastic feedback from attendees. 

Gabriel Thoumi and Ari Gerstman
Gabriel Thoumi, a consultant on climate finance based in Washington, D.C., meets with Ari Gerstman, who heads UCAR's business development program. 

“I’ve already seen four or five things that our company and clients will be tickled to learn about,” said Paul Saint Germain, director of business development for TASC. The systems engineering and integration firm helps its clients manage and integrate requirements, capabilities, decision analysis, and budgets for satellites and other large-scale space and terrestrial projects. TASC employs about 5,000 people nationwide, with a budget of $1.5 billion. 

Saint Germain met with UCP experts from COMET and COSMIC and specialists in severe weather and aviation from NCAR. He found himself impressed with “the depth and the reach—how broad your capabilities are.” Would he come back to the next summit? “I’d bring more people.”

More info

View a slide show of the event here

Watch video of the presentations here

  • Janice Coen
  • Dave Gochis
  • Branko Kosovic
  • Rich Rotunno
  • Olga Wilhelmi
  • Gina Taberski

» Find descriptions and downloadable brochures from the exhibits here