Image: Inscripta, Inc. is a global leader in automated, CRISPR-based gene editing developing tools that accelerate genome-scale editing.

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 By

Commercialization activities led by Venture Partners at the University of Colorado Boulder had an economic impact of $8 billion nationally and $5.2 billion in the state of Colorado over the last five years, according to a new report from the Leeds School of Business, a four-fold increase in impact since the previous report published in 2019

The study was completed by the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business—led by Brian Lewandowski, executive director—which conducts economic impact studies and research projects for the university and local businesses. The report reinforces CU Boulder as a top university for leading researchers in establishing startup ventures and commercializing new discoveries that have real-world impact. It also underlines commercialization as a significant component of CU Boulder’s overall economic impact, as reported recently in a separate report

Highlight findings from the report on fiscal years 2018-2022 include: 

  • Venture Partners held 315 unique commercialization agreements, including more than 200 intellectual property licenses and 70 startups spun out of CU Boulder innovations. 
  • Agreements generated $20.1 million in revenue for CU Boulder in licensing technology. 
  • CU Boulder inventors and researchers received $45.4 million in commercialization-specific grants. 
  • Startups founded on CU Boulder technology generated $3 billion in capital funding. 
  • The economic impact on the national economy included an estimated 39,000 jobs. 
  • Commercialization of licenses and startups spanned 36 states and 26 countries. 

Compared to other universities with at least fifteen startups in the fiscal year 2021, CU Boulder produced the most startups after adjusting for university size, according to data from the Association of University Technology Managers, outside of the Leeds report. Venture Partners leads commercialization at the university with a comprehensive approach and suite of programming to guide faculty, researchers and graduate students on the path to commercializing their innovations. 

“The university’s role is to support our innovators,” said Brynmor Rees, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation. “These are our creative faculty, graduate students and postdocs who are addressing important problems in their research. Commercialization increases CU Boulder’s ability to translate promising discoveries and innovations into real-world solutions.” 

Scientist holds up batteriesImage: Solid Power is a leading developer of next-generation all-solid-state battery technology.

CU Boulder startups have been making global news, many from here in Colorado. Solid Power is working to deliver solid-state electric vehicle batteries—first developed at CU Boulder by founders Sehee Lee and Conrad Stoldt, both professors in mechanical engineering—with partners Ford Motor Co. and BMW, out of Solid Power’s 75,000-square-foot plant in Thornton. Boulder-based SomaLogic—founded by Larry Gold, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology—went public on the NASDAQ last year and is a leading provider of proteomics technologies globally. The quantum-matter machine “Albert” was named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2022, created by Colorado’s own ColdQuanta—co-founded by Dana Anderson, professor of physics. 

The revenues CU Boulder receives from licensing innovations created at the university are re-invested in what Rees calls a “virtuous cycle,” split between the inventors (including their research labs) and the commercialization programs run by Venture Partners. “Today, someone wishing to commercialize an innovation at CU Boulder has access to a tremendous amount of support, and they have that because of the past successes of their peers and the re-investment of the university’s share in that success,” said Rees. "The end result is a greater capacity for CU Boulder to deliver on the promise of breakthrough research to produce new solutions and economic growth.” 

Read the 2022 Report