In 2019, Venture Partners at CU Boulder—the university's commercialization arm—launched the state's first-ever showcase for research-based startups spun out of Colorado universities and federal laboratories. This event, called Destination Startup®, aims to connect these startups with investors and the greater innovation ecosystem in hopes of securing capital and making industry connections to advance their companies.
With the coronavirus pandemic, an in-person event became impossible for 2021.
"Going virtual this year means we can engage more out-of-state investors and university partners," said Stephen Miller, director of venture development for Venture Partners and lead organizer of Destintion Startup®. "Attendees will be able to watch pitches, ask questions live and communicate directly with startup founders on-demand via an online platform."
From February 16-18, 2021, Venture Partners will host the biggest Destination Startup® yet, showcasing 25 startups from 10 different universities across six states in the Rocky Mountain region—not just Colorado—and drawing investors from around the world.
LongPath Technologies, a joint venture out of CU Boulder and NIST, is based on Nobel Prize-winning dual comb laser technology from NIST and CU Boulder. The spinout is attacking the climate change problem of undetected methane emissions from active oil wells by providing the lowest-cost, highest-precision, continuous methane monitoring for oil field installations in the world. To continue advancing their technology and grow their engineering and customer service teams, LongPath is looking for equity funding and strategic partners.
Another venture, Nutriwyo, spun out of the University of Wyoming. This company is developing a novel treatment strategy for diabetic wounds. A major complication of diabetes is the development of diabetic foot wounds, which is the leading cause of amputation in the U.S. Existing treatment has been reported to have several adverses affects, and Nutriwyo aims to find a better soultion. They recently received National Institute of Health (NIH) Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding to further evaluate their approach.
"This showcase will allow us to present our latest data around the acceleration of diabetic wound healing and highlight our current studies and future plan," said Nutriwyo CEO Rama P. Nair. "Longer-term, a Phase II clinical trial partner needs to be identified, and we're excited that Destination Startup® may be the catalyst for connecting us with an interested partner."
By partnering with universities from Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and New Mexico, Venture Partners hopes this network of research institutions will continue to partner on other commercialization endeavors after Destination Startup®.
"With the expansion of this year's event, we have higher quality startups, more investor connections and more investments closed," said Bryn Rees, managing director for Venture Partners and assistant vice chancellor for Research and Innovation. "The universities typically hold equity and royalty streams in their respective spin-out companies, but in addition to the direct financial impact that can result, the larger goal is achieving the universities’ missions of translating breakthrough research into positive impact."
“We’re so proud that CU Boulder is leading this effort to grow the investment base for our research-based startups, not only in Colorado but across the Mountain-West,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Terri Fiez. “It’s exciting for these universities to collectively make our mark as a research-rich culture to local and coastal investors.”