Published: May 14, 2024

Now in its second year, the Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator, offered by Venture Partners at CU Boulder, matches business minds outside the university with breakthrough inventions created within its walls and provides funding for those ventures. The application for entrepreneurs is now open for the 2024 cohort.

2024 Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator

Learn more about the program, explore our technologies portfolio and apply. Learn More

Each year, roughly 150 inventions emerge from CU Boulder’s research labs. 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 entrepreneurs are searching for the newest breakthrough technologies to bring to the marketplace but lack the needed access and support.

Given that symbiosis-to-be, Venture Partners' Embark brings together those would-be entrepreneurs and inventors in a unique way, says Bryn Rees, associate vice chancellor for research and innovation and managing director of Venture Partners. “Just because the university inventors didn’t create a startup company doesn’t mean the technology is not a really exciting startup opportunity,” he said. “We think some of our very best innovations are available, and Embark is a way to catalyze that.”

To that end, Venture Partners has curated a list of promising innovations with strong commercial potential from a broad array of scientific and engineering disciplines. 

Embark presents an exciting new avenue for ideas like the breath monitor to get out into the world where they can make a difference, according to Marta Zgagacz, director of licensing at Venture Partners. “[Our researchers] are extremely enthusiastic to have their technology go through the Embark program and hopefully come out the other side with a startup,” she said. 

Entrepreneurs can learn about Embark technologies and apply to the program through Venture Partners. Successful applicants will then have several weeks to dive deeper into the technologies, learn about the startup resources available through the university, and meet with the inventors, who can play an important role in the startup if they choose. Entrepreneurs will then present their commercialization plans, and Venture Partners will select those who qualify for an exclusive partnership with the university for the chosen technology. Additionally, several successful applicants will be offered funding in the form of a six-month part-time salary as the founding CEOs and up to $50,000 for technology development. 

Embark’s funding stream, made possible by grants from CU Boulder and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), is also intended to open new doors to underrepresented groups in the startup community. “As much as we’re interested in experienced, successful startup founders, we also want applications from folks who are earlier in their career or who otherwise wouldn’t be able to start a venture such as this without the salary support,” Rees said. “We hope that the funding will diversify our startup founders at the university.” 

Embark joins a suite of support that Venture Partners already offers to inventors and entrepreneurs wanting to bring their innovations to market. That support includes NSF I-CorpsDestination StartupAscent Deep Tech AcceleratorLab Venture Challenge and a partnership with the Buff Venture Fund.

First cohort of CU Boulder’s Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator launches groundbreaking innovations

A dozen entrepreneurs and 10 groundbreaking innovations took center stage at the recent inaugural Embark Showcase. Attendees got an exclusive look at companies built in the last six months by the first cohort of Embark Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs). The entrepreneurs shared progress on startups spanning diverse sectors like biotechnology, quantum science, advanced materials and aerospace. Read More