Welcome to our annual special section, Discoveries: Universities, Labs & the Economy.

This section is a joint effort of the staffs at BizWest Media LLC's three publications — the Boulder County Business Report, Northern Colorado Business Report and Wyoming Business Report.

It shines a spotlight on research at universities and federal laboratories in Colorado and Wyoming, which have a multibillion-dollar impact on the region from Laramie to Denver and Aurora, Fort Collins to Boulder, Golden to Greeley.

The names are powerful: the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Colorado Denver, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Wyoming.

Federal laboratories include the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many others.

The impact of these institutions can be found in direct dollars spent, spinoff dollars generated, research dollars raised, private companies lured to the region, technologies developed and spinoff companies created.

Patents generated by research institutions are many and varied. Strengths range from bioscience to veterinary medicine, aerospace to software, clean technology to energy.

At our publications, we stand at ground zero for much of the science that has made our region a national research powerhouse. We report daily on the discoveries that are made, the companies that are created and the researchers who are honored.

That proximity prompts us to take a deeper look at the impact of these institutions on the economies of Colorado and Wyoming. Through Discoveries, we seek to demonstrate for our readers how important these institutions are to the region's economy. For this purpose, we broadened our traditional coverage areas to include those research institutions in Aurora, Denver and Golden – institutions such as the Colorado School of Mines, NREL and CU's Anschutz Medical Campus.

Readers will learn about some of the researchers and technologies that drive these institutions and help fuel our economy. They'll learn about their economic impact and their challenges.

But this coverage does not end with this section. We know – and we hope the reader understands – that no single section could adequately describe the scope of these institutions and their impact on the economy. This is our second year producing the publication, and we realize through our research and reporting that we are only scratching the surface of all the work being done in laboratories that have a positive impact on our lives.

That's why we created an ongoing monthly feature in each of our publications that highlights new technologies, new discoveries and the researchers behind them.

Readers can look to our websites – www.bcbr.com, www.ncbr.com and www.wyomingbusinessreport.com – and print editions for regular features on what researchers are discovering throughout the year.

Belinda Nelson, publisher of the Wyoming Business Report, can be reached at bnelson@wyoming.com. Jeff Nuttall, publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report, can be reached at jnuttall@ncbr.com. Christopher Wood, publisher of the Boulder County Business Report, can be reached at cwood@bcbr.com.