Receive up to $125,000 to develop your invention


Showcase your invention to the business community


Refine your commercial strategy

lab venture challenge logo with sponsors

Funding and Training to Advance Your Invention

Through the Lab Venture Challenge (formerly known as the Advanced Industries Accelerator “AIA” grant program), Venture Partners at CU Boulder funds the top innovations showing high commercial potentiala clear path to a compelling market, and strong scientific support

In just the last 3 years, more than 20 commercially promising projects at CU Boulder have received funding through this program. Those same awards are associated with 16 new startup companies, with many having already raised further capital, demonstrating a powerful way to advance innovative research and translate it into impactful business ventures.

Check Out This Year's Innovators

The Details

Up to $125,000 (including 8% F&A) is available per award in total costs, consisting of two subcategories:

  • Proof of Concept
    Up to $100,000 is available for answering critical experimental questions that will help to validate the technology for commercial applications.
  • Business Development
    Up to $25,000 is available in support of early commercialization activities. Funds may be used for customer discovery, market assessment, startup formation expenses, website development, intellectual property ($10,000 max), travel ($5,000 max), and accelerator fees. If patent expenses are anticipated during the award term, then applicants must include such expenses in the budget, up to the $10,000 maximum. Other business expenses may be eligible upon specific request. Need guidance? Your Venture Partners case manager can provide you with details on IP expenses and specific opportunities with Innosphere and Rockies Venture Club.


  • Final Showcase
    The Lab Venture Challenge culminates in a final showcase, hosted over two days and split into biosciences and physical sciences and engineering sessions. Selected finalists will deliver 10-minute pitches to a panel of business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and intellectual property experts. The final showcase features CU Boulder's next wave of breakthrough innovations and is open to the business and university community.
  • Pitch Coaching and Practice
    All finalists will participate in a Pitch Academy workshop prior to the final showcase. The Pitch Academy workshop, run by the Commercialization Academy, coaches applicants on how to engage a business audience and attract funding. Finalists will then practice their pitches and receive critical feedback from CU Boulder Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, commercialization mentors, and the Venture Partners at CU Boulder team.
  • Research-to-Market
    The Research-to-Market (R2M) program, also run by the Commercialization Academy, teaches scientific teams the process of stakeholder discovery – critical to taking cutting-edge technology into the marketplace. The R2M program leverages the nationally recognized Lean Launchpad and Business Model Canvas methodologies. All Lab Venture Challenge awardees will be required to complete the R2M program in Spring 2020 as a condition of funding.


In order to apply and be considered for Lab Venture Challenge, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. The subject innovation must fall within one of the seven defined areas: advanced manufacturing, aerospace, bioscience, electronics, energy and natural resources, infrastructure engineering, or technology and information.
  2. An invention disclosure form for the subject invention must be received by Venture Partners at CU Boulder by July 15. UCCS investigators are eligible to apply. CU Denver investigators in physical sciences and engineering are eligible to apply. CU Denver investigators in biomedical disciplines and all CU Anschutz investigators should apply with CU Innovations.
  3. The applicant must be an eligible principal investigator. To check for eligibility, click here.
  4. If the applicant has received a prior award under AIA or LVC for the same invention that is the subject of a 2019 LVC application, the total amount of funding, including the present application plus the prior award(s), cannot exceed $200,000.
  5. If the invention is already licensed/optioned, the licensee/optionee company cannot have raised more than $500,000 in investment capital. 

2019 Key Dates & Deadlines

  • December 12: Selected Lab Venture Challenge awardees will need to complete a web-based questionnaire required by the State of Colorado.
  • Spring 2020: Awardees will be required to participate in the Research-to-Market (R2M) program.

Additional Notes

  • Funding under the Lab Venture Challenge comes from Colorado’s Advanced Industries Accelerator program, Venture Partners at CU Boulder, and from a share of CU Boulder’s IP licensing revenues. The observed funding rate over the last 3 years was approximately 28%. Project duration can be up to 24 months for physical science awards and up to 36 months for bioscience awards. 
  • Matching funds are available from Venture Partners for Boulder applicants, or may also be provided by a partnering company. In the case of eligible UCCS and CU Denver applicants, matching funds can be provided by the respective campus or a partnering company. State funding requires a match of 25% of the total project costs. For example, an applicant requesting $125,000 in total funds would request $93,750 from the State and $31,250 in matching funds. 
  • Applicants are encouraged to reach out to their Venture Partners contact with any questions about eligibility, and/or to discuss ways in which their applications may be strengthened, especially with regards to the commercialization section of the application.
  • The AIA program operates within the State of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). CU receives a pre-allocation from the total available funding.


The Lab Venture Challenge is run internally at CU Boulder and, while it does benefit from AIA funding, is separate from the statewide AIA competition run by Colorado's OEDIT. The Lab Venture Challenge and statewide AIA programs have different timelines, funding amounts and other details. To apply to the Lab Venture Challenge, please only use the details provided on this page and within the application site. Please do not use the application guidelines on the OEDIT AIA website if applying for the Lab Venture Challenge. If you are interested in applying for the statewide AIA program, please visit their website.