Published: Aug. 9, 2023 By

The Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator at Venture Partners at CU Boulder has officially launched its first Embark Entrepreneurs in Residence cohort. Embark aims to connect business minds outside the university with breakthrough inventions emerging from CU Boulder’s research labs to bring them to market and unleash the full impact of CU Boulder’s research into the world.

Each year, around 150 promising inventions are generated within the university. Some are spun out and brought to market by the innovators themselves, while many more join an underutilized pool of university innovations. At the same time, many community entrepreneurs are searching for the newest breakthrough technologies to bring to the marketplace but need access and support. 

Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator

Embark is CU Boulder’s deep tech startup creator for matching entrepreneurs with breakthrough innovations. With myriad CU Boulder technologies ready to make a real-world impact, Embark seeks motivated entrepreneurs ready to launch new companies. The program provides IP rights, salary support, grant funds and investor introductions to selected entrepreneurs.

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Embark seeks to bridge this gap by matching entrepreneurs with promising innovations. “Just because the university inventors didn’t create a startup company doesn’t mean the technology is not a really exciting startup opportunity,” said Bryn Rees, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation and managing director of Venture Partners.

Over 100 entrepreneurs applied to the program and explored a curated portfolio of 50 technologies from various scientific and engineering fields, including biotechnology, quantum science, advanced materials and aerospace. The Venture Partners team then worked closely with the entrepreneurs and inventors to find the right matches and the greatest opportunities for impact.

The 12 selected entrepreneurs—founding 10 new startups on university-owned technologies—will launch their companies with an option agreement from the university and receive up to $100,000 for technology development, plus the option of a six-month part-time salary to jumpstart their ventures. “The option will give them a period of exclusivity,” explains Marta Zgagacz, director of licensing at Venture Partners, who co-runs Embark. “They have time to get their ducks in a row and figure out how they will proceed.” 

With funding from CU Boulder and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), the program aims to increase diversity in the startup community by supporting individuals who may not have the financial means to pursue entrepreneurship without salary support.

“These people know how to hire the best and the brightest to support them. They also know how to attract funding, and they know how to launch a startup,” said Stephen Miller, director of venture development at Venture Partners, who co-runs Embark.

Embark’s emphasis on matching entrepreneurs with groundbreaking innovations holds the potential to unleash the full impact of CU Boulder’s research into the world.

2023 Embark Entrepreneurs in Residence

Nate Ashton will lead Regyn Bio in bringing to market an efficient and scalable microwave-based pyrolysis system invented by Zoya Popovic (Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering).

Matthew Bauer will lead Pando Strategies Corporation in bringing to market a small ear device invented by Tam Vu (Computer Science) that provides hands-free computer control that allows users to communicate by “typing” on their teeth.

David Beitz and Carl Kalin will lead BioSensor Solutions in bringing to market a biodegradable 2D printed soil sensor invented by Gregory Whiting (Mechanical Engineering) that provides real-time measurement data of soil health directly at the source in the field.

Brian Dao will lead Coaterra in bringing to market a coated and tunable stent Wei Tan (Mechanical Engineering) invented to reduce blood vessel damage and induce quick healing.

Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan will lead PrecisionTerra in bringing to market a software solution invented by Jade Morton (Aerospace) that only requires a firmware update to improve the signal strength of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers in urban environments.

T. Hingba and Jason McGowin will lead Hear the Health in bringing to market a wireless in-ear blood pressure measuring device that Tam Vu (Computer Science) invented for intermittent and continuous monitoring.

John Seman will lead Antibiotic Adjuvants in bringing to market new adjuvants discovered by Xiang Wang (Chemistry) for multiple drug-resistant bacteria.

Jonathan Teaford will lead Lifespan Concrete Technologies in bringing to market an antimicrobial mixture invented by Mark Hernandez (Environmental Engineering) for concrete pipe manufacturers to extend the useful life of a concrete sewer pipe from 25 to 75 years.

Galen Williams will lead WHISPER Energy in bringing to market a wireless sensor platform invented by Gregor Henze (Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering) for home and commercial building energy management.

Eva Yao will lead FLARI in bringing to market a breathalyzer capable of detecting molecules in breath or air samples invented by Jun Ye (Physics) for fast detection of diseases and contaminants.