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Inland Northwest Center for Energy and Decarbonization -Intent (WA, ID) wins $1 Million NSF Engines Development Award

May 15, 2023

SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, MAY 11, 2023 – The Inland Northwest Center for Energy and Decarbonization (INTENT) has been awarded $996,490 through its partner, Urbanova, from the U.S. National Science Foundation's Regional Innovation Engines, or NSF Engines, program. The funded two-year project is: “Advancing energy and decarbonization technologies in the Inland Northwest (WA, ID)”. The INTENT/Urbanova team is among the more than 40 unique teams to receive one of the first-ever NSF Engines Development Awards, which aim to help partners collaborate to create economic, societal, and technological opportunities for their regions.

This Regional Innovation Engines Development Award is focused on accelerating the equitable decarbonization of the power grid and energy systems in the Inland Northwest region by establishing INTENT, a cross-sector public-private collaboration. INTENT aims to address the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the power grid and lead the transition to clean energy. INTENT’s impact will be measured through economic growth and investment, sustainability, resource stewardship, environmental equity, sustained workforce opportunity, and ability to scale to other regions. More information about INTENT can be found at:

“This catalytic award from NSF Engines enables the region to achieve something together that none of us can achieve acting independently,” said Kim Zentz, principal investigator and Urbanova board member. “We are grateful to our proposal leadership team including Avista Utilities, Washington State University, Edo, University of Idaho, Spokane Workforce Council, POWER Engineers, Pacific Northwest National Lab,  and Open Energy Solutions. We look forward to charting a course to a successful full Engine proposal within two years together with 18 additional committed partners.”

“Avista is thrilled to be one of the key partners leading this NSF Engines effort. Innovation is in Avista’s DNA because it’s been an integral part of our corporate culture since we were founded in 1889. For more than 134 years, we have innovated with intention to propel our utility and the entire energy industry forward. Our proven track record of innovation includes building long-standing, trusted relationships by collaborating with the talented researchers, energy experts and other entities across the Inland Northwest region to successfully achieve common goals. We’re excited by what we can all learn in this latest public-private partnership. We know that to achieve the clean energy future we all want, we must continue to innovate in ways that balance delivering clean, reliable energy, while helping ensure that energy is affordable for the most vulnerable among us,” said Avista Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy and Clean Energy Officer Jason Thackston.

“With today’s awards, the Pacific Northwest continues to demonstrate its leadership in responsible economic development in everything from clean energy to construction,” Senator Maria Cantwell said. “The NSF-funded partnership led by Urbanova gives us a real shot at creating and deploying technologies that deliver reliable, affordable, zero-carbon energy solutions to consumers across Eastern Washington.”

“This new funding for Urbanova and universities in our region will be a game changer for innovation across Washington state,” said Senator Patty Murray. “These institutions are drivers of innovation and research in the Northwest, creating jobs and spurring growth for countless communities in and around our state. And now, thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act, the National Science Foundation has the support they need to create partnerships that will boost our local economies and help our nation stay competitive globally.”

The NSF Engines program is a transformational investment for the nation, ensuring the U.S. remains in the vanguard of competitiveness for decades to come.

"These NSF Engines Development Awards lay the foundation for emerging hubs of innovation and potential future NSF Engines," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "These awardees are part of the fabric of NSF's vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere. They will build robust regional partnerships rooted in scientific and technological innovation in every part of our nation. Through these planning awards, NSF is seeding the future for in-place innovation in communities and to grow their regional economies through research and partnerships. This will unleash ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation."

The scope of the NSF Engines Development Award: Advancing energy and decarbonization technologies in the Inland Northwest (WA, ID) project will ultimately serve 28 Inland Northwest counties in Washington and Idaho. The overarching goal is to inclusively build the economy, nurture effective investments in innovation, grow and sustain a capable workforce, and draw use-inspired research and development into building economic opportunities for all residents of the region. Initially, committed partners include tribal governments, land grant research universities, an investor-owned utility, national labs, a regional workforce council, non-profits leading in energy and equity, public and private universities, public utility districts, angel investment groups, intellectual property experts, state agencies, other economic cluster organizations and several sector-leading for-profit companies.

The awardees span a broad range of states and regions, reaching geographic areas that have not fully benefited from the technology boom of the past decades. These NSF Engines Development Awards will help organizations create connections and develop their local innovation ecosystems within two years to prepare strong proposals for becoming future NSF Engines, which will each have the opportunity to receive up to $160 million.

Launched by NSF's new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022," the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation's science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness, and create local, high-wage jobs.

“Urbanova is proud to work alongside the INTENT partners in our region that are advancing innovation and exploring new technology to build a clean energy future,” said Urbanova CEO Mason Burley.

About Urbanova: Urbanova was founded in 2016 as a civic innovation partnership bringing city, university, industry,  and nonprofit sectors together to learn, test, and discover how new technologies, integrated data and jointly developed solutions can improve lives of residents. Urbanova projects are focused on driving place-based and research-informed solutions that measurably improve equity and resilience in communities. (

View a map of the NSF Engines Development Awards. More information can be found on the NSF Engines program website. More information about INTENT can be found at


INTENT (WA, ID) MEDIA REQUESTS: Kim Zentz,, 509-995-5287

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