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Grant funds business plan advice for local clean-energy startups

While times are tough for many businesses, there are still opportunities for investment. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the driving forces behind a bright spot the economy in Colorado, providing an opportunity for start-ups with promising business plans to develop. To give an example, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has granted funding to Rocky Mountain Innosphere (RMI), a project based in Fort Collins, to launch a number of new clean-energy businesses.

RMI was recently awarded a Colorado State Energy Sector Partnership Grant of almost $100,000. The money will be used to launch more than 30 new clean energy, technology and scientific startup companies - as well as to create jobs in renewable energy.

At the heart of RMI's project is the FastTrac TechVenture program. The plan was set up last year to offer rigorous training and education in business planning. The program includes coaching from business professionals, online resources and individual sessions to help entrepreneurs develop a successful business. It also offers advice on writing business plans and the other technical aspects of running a company.

In the first year of the program, RMI offered training to 37 entrepreneurs. According to the program's director, RMI was very pleased with the results and received positive feedback from participants. The TechVenture program is recommencing on July 23rd, and will continue until mid-September. The coaching is worth more than $5000. People with ideas for a renewable or clean-energy business are encouraged to apply.

Getting a business off the ground is only the start, however. Once things get going, business owners can find themselves confronting issues they did not anticipate. In these circumstances, it might help to have a conversation with an attorney who regularly works with business matters. It is likely he or she will have dealt with a similar situation before and will have suggestions for what should be done.

Source: The Northern Colorado Business Report "Innosphere grant to boost cleantech businesses," 01 July 2011.

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