Published: April 19, 2024

Photo: Qizhong Liang, PhD candidate (JILA, Physics), demonstrating how a laser-based breathalyzer works in the Ye lab at JILA​.

2023 was another tremendous year for innovation at the University of Colorado Boulder. Campus researchers and inventors created a strong crop of 162 breakthrough technologies this past year. These spanned the breadth of CU Boulder’s research expertise, with innovations in climate tech, biotechnology, quantum science, optics and aerospace, to name a few. CU Boulder's commercialization arm, Venture Partners at CU Boulder, supports a groundbreaking pipeline translating research into real-world impact, as highlighted in their 2023 Annual Report. 

The mission of Venture Partners is to catalyze the translation of research into successful commercial ventures. In 2023, Venture Partners executed 68 license and option agreements to partner CU Boulder technologies with commercial businesses, including 10 newly formed startup companies they helped create. The Venture Partner startup portfolio raised $504 million in new capital over the past year, and 18 CU Boulder spinouts have exited since 2000.

Venture Partners launched a new opportunity this past year to its suite of world-class programming, the Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator. Embark pairs entrepreneurs with promising CU Boulder technologies and, in its first year, launched 10 promising new businesses.

Two federal recognitions last year—celebrating Colorado as an innovation engine and a quantum hub—are built on CU Boulder’s technological and entrepreneurial leadership. The National Science Foundation announced that the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine (CO-WY Engine) had earned a spot in its inaugural Regional Innovation Engines program. The prestigious award means up to $160 million in funding over 10 years and puts the CO-WY Engine at the forefront of the nation’s environmental and climate technology initiatives. As a key university partner, CU Boulder will play a role in the leadership and governance of the CO-WY Engine. 

Effective commercialization at CU Boulder is also taking center stage in new quantum industries. In the fall of 2023, the U.S. Economic Development Administration designated parts of Colorado as a Regional Technology and Innovation Hub (Tech Hub) for quantum technology. Thanks to globally recognized discoveries at CU Boulder, Colorado is already a global leader in quantum research and innovation. Since the 1990s, CU Boulder researchers have won four Nobel Prizes for quantum-related insights and launched new businesses like LongPath Technologies and Coldquanta (now Infleqtion).

Signature events last year connected investors with burgeoning innovators. The Lab Venture Challenge, a collaboration with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), awarded university researchers more than $1 million in grant funding. Destination Startup brought investors and startups together in partnership with over a dozen universities in the Intermountain West. 

Venture Partners continues to grow its suite of entrepreneurial training and opportunities for CU Boulder researchers, including the Ascent Deep Tech Accelerator, and working as a leader of the I-Corps™ Hub: West Region, one of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (“I-Corps”) Hubs. 

About Venture Partners at CU Boulder

Set in the heart of our university’s bold, innovative community of scholars and learners, Venture Partners at CU Boulder brings the university's world-class researchers together with the business, startup and entrepreneurial communities to translate groundbreaking solutions into economic and social impact. As the commercialization arm of the University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver (Physical Sciences) campuses, Venture Partners prepares campus innovators to bring technologies and ideas to market through intellectual property (IP) management, entrepreneurial training, mentorship and advising, funding opportunities and support, and licensing and industry partnerships.