What we’re all About
Hello. We are the Colorado Innovation Network, but you can call us COIN. We are a catalyst for innovation. We are creating a physical and virtual network of global leaders that will encourage relationships to support the innovation ecosystem, grow companies, and create jobs.
What exactly is “innovation” anyway? We define innovation as a product, process, or service that generates new value in the market. Launched by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in November 2011, we are innovative down to our very core as startup within government – we are a privately funded organization that lives within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
COIN understands the place that risk-taking holds in being able to drive ideas forward. This is something we embrace in our own programs and initiatives, which aim to leave a mark on the innovation ecosystem beyond the Rocky Mountains. We are dedicated to telling Colorado’s innovation story and are honored to be a part of building it.
Enough about COIN. Let’s talk about you. Whether you are the leader of an established company or the founder of a small business, a researcher or a university professor, if your goal is to make a difference COIN can help. We can introduce you to a network of great people to collaborate with and would love the opportunity to tell you more about the resources available to you in Colorado. We hope you’ll connect with us and let us know what you are working on.
Our Mission & Vision
The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) is a catalyst for economic prosperity through innovation by partnering with government, business and civil society to foster collaboration around global ideas, talent, capital and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Our vision is to help Colorado blossom into the most innovative state in the nation. With your help, we can make this vision a reality!
“If we can establish a reputation for a high quality of life and an environment that fosters innovation, we can rival any place in the world for economic investment, leading to job creation.”
– Governor John W. Hickenlooper, State of Colorado
Erik MitisekChief Innovation Officer,
State of Colorado;
Project XITE, University of Denver
In March 2016, Erik Mitisek was named the executive director of Project XITE. In his role, Erik will connect creative thinkers and doers in industry and government to faculty and students around the intersection of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The Project XITE initiative looks to position DU as a global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship-related higher education and increases DU’s profile as Denver’s platform for ITE topics globally. Erik brings more than 15 years of experience building Colorado companies in the online software, luxury, consumer mobile and online real estate industries. Prior to his role at the University, Erik served as CEO of the Colorado Technology Association. Erik also serves as Co-Chair of Startup Colorado and organizing chair and co-founder of the annual Denver Startup Week.
Anna EwingExecutive Director,
Colorado Innovation Network
Anna is Chief Operating Officer of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT), overseeing agency operations, human resources, and finance functions as well as providing cross-divisional leadership on a broad range of economic development initiatives and serving on several related advisory boards. She is also Executive Director of the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN), a physical and virtual network of global leaders that encourages relationships to support & grow Colorado’s innovation ecosystem and to foster collaboration around global ideas, talent, capital, and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Before joining OEDIT and COIN in early 2015, Anna enjoyed a dynamic corporate finance career, most recently as Chief Financial Officer of Vodafone Americas where she spent six years. Before Vodafone, Anna held progressive strategic & financial positions in several industries; first in marketing & advertising with the Omnicom Group Inc. network and then in resort management with Intrawest. She began her career at Price Waterhouse LLP. Anna graduated from Baylor University with a BBA and holds CPA and CGMA licenses.
A fourth-generation native of Colorado, she is a travel and adventure enthusiast and enjoys the great outdoors with her husband Chris, two young children, and rescue dog Magnum.
Kelly UnderellDeputy Director,
Colorado Innovation Network
Kelly Underell serves as the Deputy Director for the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN), a public-private partnership within the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade. As part of her role, Underell directs the annual COIN Summit and currently serves as the Chief Architect for a first-of-its-kind statewide open innovation challenge, called Imagine Colorado, focused on healthy living and youth.
Underell’s past experience at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and DAVIES Public Affairs has been concentrated on contributions to the public affairs industry, the management of programs and events and supporting outreach campaigns for leading non-profit and corporate organizations.
Underell is an active member of the Denver community serving on the Downtown Denver Partnership CityBuild Leadership Team and the Mile High United Way Emerging Leadership Council’s Leadership Team. In 2015, she was recognized as one of the Denver Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” honorees.
Underell holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In her spare time she enjoys world travel, outdoor activities and running, and is also an avid volleyball player.
The members of the COIN Network make up Colorado's innovation ecosystem. Each are an important contributor to the innovative success stories in Colorado and collaboration among these group is key to that success.
COIN is public-private partnership,housed within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and supported by our corporate and academic Sponsors.
Mark N.Corporate Vice President and Chairman
Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems
Mr. Sirangelo is the head of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, a producer of satellites, space transportation vehicles, propulsion systems and space subsystems. SNC Space Systems over its 25 years of business has been engaged on over 400 space missions and has produced over 4,000 systems, subsystems and components for a wide variety of earth orbit and planetary missions. SNC is also the owner and prime developer of the Dream Chaser, a LEO orbital space vehicle transportation system currently being funded in partnership with NASA as a replacement for the Space Shuttle. Mr. Sirangelo was formerly the Chairman & CEO of SpaceDev, Inc., prior to its merging with SNC and has spent his career leading aeronautics, space and technology companies.
Mr. Sirangelo’s industry board memberships include being the Chairman Emeritus of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the founding and current Chairman of eSpace, The Center for Space Entrepreneurship, a Trustee for the Aeronautics Industries Association and a member of the board of the University of Colorado Engineering School. His charity boards include being a board member and trustee of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and a founder, Vice Chairman and Treasurer of the International Centre for Children. Corporate and personal awards include NASA/Space Foundation’s Technology Hall of Fame, the Defense Industry’s Fast Track 50, Deloitte’s Fast Track 500, a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year and Inc. Magazine’s top 200 companies. Mr. Sirangelo is an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow, and holds Doctorate, MBA and Bachelor of Science degrees. He has also been scientifically published, served as an officer in the US Military and is a licensed pilot.
University of Colorado Boulder
Dr. Philip P. DiStefano is the Chancellor at the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to his appointment on May 5, 2009, Dr. DiStefano was the top academic officer at CU-Boulder for eight years as the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He served as interim chancellor twice during pivotal times in the university's history.
Dr. DiStefano co-chaired the steering committee for CU-Boulder's visionary strategic plan, Flagship 2030, conceived with campus, community and statewide input, to guide CU-Boulder for decades to come. Today, Dr. DiStefano is shepherding its implementation as Flagship 2030 moves from vision to reality.
Dr. DiStefano has served CU-Boulder for 39 years. He joined the University of Colorado in 1974 as an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the School of Education. His academic career flourished as he assumed a series of academic and administrative positions, including Professor, Associate Dean, Dean and Vice Chancellor. He was appointed Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in 2001.
As Chancellor he works closely with students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, governing officials, and business and community leaders in extending CU's legacy as a preeminent national comprehensive research university.
A first-generation college graduate, Dr. DiStefano earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio State University and a Master of Arts degree in English Education from West Virginia University. He holds a Doctorate in Humanities Education from Ohio State University, where he served as a teaching and research associate.
He began his educational career as a high school English teacher in Ohio. He has authored and co-authored numerous books and articles on various topics in literacy education.
Dr. DiStefano and his wife, Yvonne, have been married for 42 years. They are the parents of three grown daughters and the proud grandparents of two girls.
Kelly Quann Bianucci has been developing and executing marketing, growth, and innovation strategies for media, technology, and non-profit organizations for over a decade. Within Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice and as an informal advisor to several new ventures, Ms. Quann Bianucci currently advises a diverse range of small to large companies within the media and technology industries. Recently, she served as the founding Executive Director of the Colorado Innovation Network, an organization created by Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado in November 2011 to foster collaboration across the private, public, and academic sectors for innovation.
Ms. Quann Bianucci holds an MBA concentrated in Finance and Innovation from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where she remains an active member of the Kellogg Innovation Network. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business, where she served as President of the Stern-Tisch Entertainment Business Association. She is also a member of the American Red Cross’s National Young Professionals Council.
Ms. Quann Bianucci and her partner, Dennis, live in Arvada, Colorado with their two children, Ryan (11) and Quinn (9). In their spare time, they enjoy road cycling, hiking, filmmaking and photography.
AdamDirector and Chief Animator
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Adam Lerner is the Director and Chief Animator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver). In 2004, he founded The Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar (The Lab) to explore the changing nature of art and museums. In 2009, The Lab merged with MCA Denver when Lerner took the helm of the museum. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Lerner’s work to engage audiences is “reshaping what has become a stale model for a contemporary art museum.” Lerner’s programs have been adopted by museums throughout North America. He is the author of a book about unauthenticated art forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press. He co-organized with Elissa Auther the exhibition West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977, accompanied by a book of the same name published by the University of Minnesota Press.
Dr. AjayDean of the College of Business,
Colorado State University
As Dean of the College of Business, Ajay Menon provides strategic direction for the College of Business. His responsibilities include: providing leadership for the College of Business; developing and maintaining relationships with all external stakeholders of the College; obtaining financial resources for the College to achieve its vision for success; broad oversight of the senior management of the College.
Dr. Menon holds a Ph.D. in Marketing and has been on the Marketing Department faculty since 1991. His teaching and research expertise lie in the areas of International Marketing, New Product Development & Management and Strategic Market Planning. His research interests focus in the areas of customer loyalty, new product management, and strategy implementation. He has coordinated and participated in several discussion round-tables on these and related topics at national and international forums.
Dr. Menon’s research has appeared in the leading marketing and business journals. In addition, he has received several recognitions for his classroom teaching, including being named “Professor of the Year.” Dr. Menon has been a consultant to several leading companies in Colorado.
AmySenior Vice President
IHS Connect and Product Platforms, IHS
Amy Minnick is the Senior Vice President for IHS Connect and Product Platforms at IHS. In Amy’s role she leads the product and commercial strategy to create the world’s leading online product platform for strategy professionals across capital intensive industries such as Energy, Chemicals, Technology, Automotive, Aerospace and Maritime. Amy works closely with customers and IHS colleagues in Colorado and around the world on product development, new products and solutions, and new analytic solutions.
Prior to her current role, Amy led corporate strategy and strategic partnerships at IHS and had positions leading sales strategy, sales operations and channel management. Amy joined IHS shortly after moving to Colorado in 2010.
Prior to IHS, Amy worked at LexisNexis, the information services company in New York, in leadership roles in sales strategy and operations, at McKinsey and Company as a strategy consultant in the Media and Technology groups in New York, and as an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in New York and Frankfurt.
Amy is a graduate of Williams College, where she graduated with a BA in Political Economy, and has an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she graduated with high distinction as a Baker Scholar.
Amy lives in Greenwood Village with her husband and their two children. After growing up in Idaho, Amy is thrilled to be in Colorado and back in the mountains where she and her family love to ski, hike, garden and enjoy the great outdoors.
DavidExecutive Vice President,
Global Operations and Technology,
Chief Information Officer,
As Executive Vice President, Global Operations and Chief Information Officer, John “David” Thompson is responsible for building and developing the IT infrastructure to support the next generation of payment products and services. He also is responsible for maximizing efficiency, quality and customer delivery for the company’s global Agent network of more than 510,000 locations in 200 countries and territories. He is based in Englewood, Colo., at Western Union’s global headquarters.
Thompson has more than 20 years of experience in the high-technology industry, most recently as Group President, Services and Support and Global CIO of Symantec Corporation. Prior to this role, he served as Symantec’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer and, during his six years at the company, led an organization that offered expert solutions and support in information security, technology, availability and storage.
Earlier in his career, he was Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Oracle Corporation and Vice President of Services and Chief Information Officer at PeopleSoft, Inc. Thompson is a director of CoreSite Realty Corporation.
Thompson studied at Marymount University in Arlington, Va. and American University in Washington, D.C.
Colorado Technology Association
Erik Mitisek is the CEO of the Colorado Technology Association (CTA) and represents Colorado’s technology industry through key public policy and legislative efforts, economic development and industry relations to ensure Colorado is one of the best technology markets in the United States.
Throughout his career, Erik has been dedicated to building companies and communities in Colorado for 14 years in the online software, luxury, consumer mobile, and online real estate industries.
In 2010, he co-founded his most recent company, Next Great Place, a premium online travel network backed by Trinity Ventures, to help online travelers easily book complex online vacations.
Prior to Next Great Place, as CEO of an online software company Claremont Information Systems, Erik led firm-wide business development and strategic relationships for Exclusive Resorts (a Revolution Company) and helped build XACT Radio, a world-class personalized online music company early in the 2000s.
Erik has been involved in and helping to build the Denver startup community since 1999. Erik was on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Technology Association, is a Founder Institute mentor, an Advisory Board member for the Bard Center for Entrepreneurship, Chairman of Built In Denver, Leadership Denver alumni, and is Co-Chair of Startup Colorado.
In 2012, as one of the founders and co-chair, Erik led the successful organization and production of Denver Startup Week, which was the first and largest event of its kind celebrating entrepreneurship in Denver.
MattChief Executive Officer
Mercury Payment Systems
Matt Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of Mercury Payment Systems, the industry's leader in integrated transaction processing services to small and medium sized businesses. Mercury integrates its payment processing technologies into hundreds of third party point-of-sale (POS) software products, which are marketed to millions of merchants across the U.S. and Canada. Over the last 10 years, Mercury has been one of the fastest growing payment processors in the U.S. and is ranked as the 25th largest merchant acquirer in the world.
After six years with Mercury, Matt became CEO in 2009 and has led an aggressive growth strategy focused on increasing the company's distribution footprint and product offerings. During this time, the company's merchant base grew 46 percent to approximately 70,000 installations processing over $22 billion in annual transaction volume. Additionally, the company's product portfolio has expanded beyond core processing services to include a diverse set of security-focused products, gift card, and loyalty technologies. Since Matt took the helm, revenues and earnings have doubled, and the company has earned numerous accolades from industry associations, including the Retail Solutions Providers Association Top Vendor Award consecutively in 2010 and 2011, and a Top 5 Companies to Work for in Colorado award in 2010.
Jon was Ernst & Young as Entrepreneur of the Year for the Rocky Mountain Region in 2003, five years after founding eBags.com where he served as CEO until mid-2008. eBags grew revenues profitably at a 34% compound annual growth rate between 2000-2008, to more than $100 million gross annual sales. Over those years, eBags shipped nearly 10 million bags, maintained a negative cash conversion cycle, and accumulated 1.4 million consumer-written product reviews, while operating commerce sites in the USA, UK, Germany and Japan. Today, Jon is CEO of UsingMiles.com which addresses ways to use 20 trillion unspent Reward points. A tech startup advocate, Jon is an advisor/investor to young companies like Nuzzel.com, Runa.com, Turnto.com, Clearhead.com, RedTricycle.com, EgoBoom.com, BlogMutt.com and uMix.tv. Jon is magna cum laude graduate from Boulder's University of Colorado.
MitraUS Innovation Leader
Mitra M. Best is the U.S. Innovation Leader at PwC, leading the disciplined approach to inspire, evaluate and implement innovative ideas across the organization with the critical mission to support the development of new services and market opportunities across industries. Mitra influences and advises PwC senior leaders on new ideas and approaches to organizational strategy, works with clients and third parties to foster open innovation, and promotes the PwC brand as an innovative leader in the marketplace.
Mitra joined PwC in April 1999 in the Office of Global CIO, as marketer, technologist and strategist. Before being appointed as the Innovation Leader for the U.S firm, Mitra served at the Technology Leader for the PwC Knowledge Services Organization and Business Strategy Leader for the PwC Center for Advanced Research.
Annette Quintana is the CEO of Istonish Holding Company, a privately held, information technology solutions and services company. Specifically, Istonish provides managed infrastructure support services, consulting, technical staffing and hosted integrated voice response (IVR) services. All services and solutions are provided in a manner that considers the environment and incorporates ‘green concepts’ in everything we do. As co- founder and co-owner of Istonish, Annette is involved in directing the day to day operations in support of customers. Istonish supports clients in the health care, state and federal government and the private sector.
Istonish has employees delivering business and IT consulting services in 6 states and has employed as many as 1000 people in the US and Canada. Current branch offices for sales and delivery of IT Services are located in Denver, Colorado; Dallas, Texas and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Annette is a Colorado native who was raised in Colorado Springs. Her ethnic heritage is Native American and Hispanic. She attended Colorado State University and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering. Annette is married and has two daughters ages 18 and 20.
MattSenior Vice President and General Manager
Matt McConnell is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Comcast Wholesale, a division of Comcast Cable offering third-party businesses access to services and technologies developed and proven by an industry leader.
McConnell, who was named to his current post at Comcast in July of 2012, has over 25 years of management, business development and consulting experience, specializing in the commercialization of technology. Prior to Comcast, McConnell was co-founder and CEO of Boulder-based Troppus Software Corporation, which was acquired by Echostar Corporation in early 2011, as a wholly-owned subsidiary responsible for customer care technology R&D, including the company’s Digital Life | Now™ Customer Service & Support Delivery Platform.
McConnell also served as Executive Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Strategy for NextAction Corporation (currently dba DataLogix), where he was responsible for all of the firm's new revenue and operating plans. Prior to that, he was Senior Vice President of Product Management for Level 3 Communications, Inc. In addition, McConnell held various executive roles at AOL, where he was responsible for developing and executing strategic plans to improve the company’s profitability through revenue growth and cost containment. Earlier in his career, McConnell held several strategic consulting positions and roles at Booz Allen Hamilton, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Accenture.
McConnell holds a BS in Finance and Management Information Systems from Boston College and an MBA from the Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. McConnell currently serves as an adjunct professor in The University of Denver’s University College.