Supporting a Groundbreaking Innovation Pipeline

2023 was another tremendous year for innovation at CU 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.


Innovation is at the heart of CU Boulder's values and mission. One way we innovate is by translating our research into new solutions to improve life across the globe. At Venture Partners at CU Boulder, we provide the resources, guidance and partnerships to bring the promise of university breakthrough discoveries to fruition. In this report, we are proud to share highlights from the past year’s exciting and challenging work of building new ventures, training our innovators and growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region.

After years of building a comprehensive array of resources to help our researchers establish and accelerate new startups, CU Boulder was recognized in 2023 as a leading university for startup creation. The most recent national data from AUTM (the leading global organization for recording data on university commercialization) showed that CU’s startup production was fifth among all U.S. universities—a strong indicator that the university has arrived among national leaders. This is an amazing achievement for the university. CU Boulder’s tailored startup programming, which helped to achieve this milestone recognition, includes the Lab Venture Challenge (LVC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) I-CorpsTM Hub: West, each highlighted in this report.

Venture Partners’ extensive programming saw a new addition in 2023: the Embark Deep Tech Startup Creator. Embark addresses the unrealized potential of many university technologies by pairing them with experienced community entrepreneurs and seed funding to launch new companies. In its inaugural cohort, Embark created 10 startups, each commercializing a technology born in a CU Boulder research lab. The new ventures spanned various disciplines, including quantum sciences, biotechnology, sustainable biofuels and advanced materials. Embark was an incredible success in spinning out university innovation while providing new opportunities for the business community to partner with CU Boulder in entrepreneurial collaboration.

We were delighted to see the January announcement from NSF that the Colorado-Wyoming Climate Resilience Engine—a regional grant proposal for innovation and economic development co-led by CU Boulder—was chosen for an award worth up to $160 million. Venture Partners played the lead role in designing the pillar of the Engine to commercialize new climate innovations and will be an integral partner within the Engine for years to come. This unprecedented opportunity will directly tackle regional challenges like drought and wildfire while driving new company creation and growth.

On behalf of our entire team at Venture Partners, we’d like to thank our many collaborators—startups, investors, accelerators and, most of all, our groundbreaking faculty, student and staff innovators—for an incredible 2023. We hope you enjoy this year’s report.

Cover of the 2022 Annual Report

Download the Report


Bryn ReesBryn Rees

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation; Managing Director of Venture Partners at CU Boulder

Massimo Ruzzene

Massimo Ruzzene

Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation; Dean of the Institutes