1. To get started, you must first disclose your innovation to Venture Partners by completing our Online Invention Disclosure Form or Copyrighted Material Submission Form. It's never too early! Disclosing your invention opens access to IP and startup resources and is required for proper compliance with sponsored research and university policy.
2. After you disclose your innovation to Venture Partners, you will be assigned a case manager who will meet with you to discuss your invention, available resources and a commercialization strategy (how to bring your technology to market).
If you are a researcher at UCCS or you are at CU Denver and have a physical science or engineering innovation, you will work with Venture Partners. Researchers at the Anschutz Medical campus and researchers at CU Denver with biomedical innovations will work with CU Innovations
To bring your invention to market through an industry partnership or startup company, patents can be essential, as they create market exclusivity. Venture Partners will help you obtain patents to support the commercialization of your university innovations.
Patents will be pursued where there is a partnering company (startup or established), and if a partnering company is not yet present, Venture Partners has a finite patent budget that is allocated to the innovations with the highest commercial potential. We will help you identify what resources and milestones are needed to provide a strong case for patenting and commercialization.
The process of obtaining patent funding through Venture Partners is competitive, as our office receives approximately 160-190 new inventions each year. Our patent budget allows us to file U.S. provisional patent applications on about half of these inventions.
After the U.S. provisional patent application is filed, further non-provisional applications and prosecution are needed before a patent is issued. This is where costs increase, and do so in an exponential manner if protection is sought in multiple countries.
In the absence of a company that licenses the patent rights, Venture Partners is able to fund patents through to issuance for a small number of inventions with high commercialization potential and encouraging feedback from candidate investors or partners in industry.
In the cases of the very highest commercial potential, Venture Partners may pursue international patents prior to partnering with a licensee company.
The optimal strategy is to build commercial attractiveness as quickly as possible while patent costs are lower, and then license to an existing company or create a startup. Venture Partners will help you identify the steps that will build value and secure competitive patent funding, licensees and/or startup funding for your innovation.
Venture Partners will always pursue patent rights where dedicated funding is available, such as reimbursement from a company licensing the innovation or Lab Venture Challenge funds. In absence of external funding, Venture Partners will fund patents for innovations with the highest commercial potential and viability. This is a competitive process among the inventions received by Venture Partners.
The specific criteria include:
- value proposition (does the invention solve a problem that is important to customers?)
- competitive advantage over existing solutions
- market validation (what feedback/traction has there been with potential users of the innovation?)
- likelihood of patentability (novelty, non-obvious, reduced to practice) and freedom to operate (doesn’t infringe others’ patents)
- external vetting (for example, commercialization competition outcomes and feedback)
- technology readiness (when can the technology be utilized by the intended customer base?)
Complete answers to these criteria are rarely available immediately, but the more information the better. At the provisional patent application stage, stringency on these criteria is low. A provisional patent application provides a year to make progress in these areas, and Venture Partners has several resources to help you make progress (see "How to Develop Your Invention" section). Then, as the expense rapidly increases during the years following provisional patent application, a heightened stringency is applied to these criteria.
Venture Partners has specific resources designed to help your innovation fulfill the criteria for patent investment. These include:
- Entrepreneurial Training. By hosting programs and workshops focusing on customer discovery, company formation, pitching, and what investors want, Venture Partners helps researchers build value into their innovations. Sessions range from 1-hour lunch & learn to multi-week programs.
- Lab Venture Challenge. This is CU Boulder’s competition for commercialization grants. Compete for $125,000 grants plus participation in the Research-to-Market customer discovery program.
- Kairos Ventures. Through a formal partnership and matching funds from Venture Partners, Kairos offers $125,000 gifts to labs with strong startup prospects. Your licensing manager can tell you more.
- Mentorship & Advising. Business advisors and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence are available to help you build a commercialization strategy. We host regular events to pair innovators and advisors. Whether you are just looking for early feedback or a CEO for your startup, we can help you connect with experts in the community.
- Innovation Readiness LevelTM. Venture Partners will assess your innovation’s current level and what steps are needed to advance, using this tool developed by KTH Innovation out of Stockholm, Sweden.
- IN-PART. Through Venture Partners’ partnership with IN-PART—an online matchmaking platform for university-industry collaboration—your innovation will be featured to hundreds of companies, opening opportunities for feedback and licensing.
View More Entrepreneurial Resources
You can also find value-building resources outside of Venture Partners, including:
- I-CorpsTM. Employ the Lean LaunchPad methodology to build a viable business model. I-CorpsTM grants are available through NSF and NIH.
- SAGE Boulder. Present your startup idea to a group of local business advisors who will provide feedback and volunteer time to help you take the next step toward spinning out. Contact Susan Strong at email@example.com.
- Innosphere. An accelerator specifically-designed for science-based startups, Innosphere provides entrepreneurial education, advisors, access to capital, connections to startup service providers, and introductions to strategic corporate partners.
- Catalyze CU. Catalyze CU is CU Boulder’s equity-free, summer-long startup accelerator that combines mentorship, funding and a dedicated co-working space.
- Advanced Industries Accelerator. Compete for proof-of-concept grants of up to $150,000 from Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT). A partial match (1:3) is required.
- SBIR/STTR. Small Business Innovative Resource (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) provide grant funding to your startup to advance technology with high potential for commercialization. Awards typically range from $150,000-$200,000 in Phase I and $600,000 to $2,000,000 in Phase II.
View More Off-Campus Opportunities & Events
As an inventor, you will receive a share of the university’s revenue from licensing your invention.
When Venture Partners licenses an invention, the university may receive revenue in return, in the form of royalties, fees and/or liquidated equity. This is true for licenses to both established companies and startup companies. After direct patent expenses are recovered, and any joint owners of the innovation receive their share, revenue is distributed as follows:
- 25% to inventor(s)/creator(s), personally
- 25% to the lab(s) of the inventor(s)/creator(s)
- 25% to the Chancellor; currently this is used to fund applications to the Lab Venture Challenge and other commercialization grants/gifts
- 25% to Venture Partners to fund education, mentorship, patent, and funding resources for campus innovators
The IRS has issued a Technical Advice Memorandum (TAM) that may have a significant impact on income tax reporting for royalty payments received by faculty inventors. The university provides a Form 1099 each year to faculty receiving these payments.
To manage potential conflicts of interest, make sure to include relevant details of your consulting, third-party employment, and/or startup in your DEPA if you want to consult or work for a company, or start your own company. A separate management plan may also be needed (this will be determined after your DEPA is submitted). For guidance and questions, please contact Conflicts of Interest and Commitment (COIC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add the Standard Addendum for Consulting and Third Party Employment to your consulting agreement or employment agreement with the company. This addendum ensures that your third party activities do not conflict with your obligations to the university.
Venture Partners offers several opportunities for you to find licensees for your innovations. Company contacts through research collaborations, the Destination Startup® showcase event, and personal connections often serve as the primary source of licensees. Our customer discovery programs Starting Blocks and Research-to-Market will also get you out of the lab and talking with companies.
In addition, your licensing manager at Venture Partners will help you assess when your innovation is ready to market directly to companies and will then bring in our Business Development Associate Nicole Forsberg for outreach efforts.
If you want to form a startup, you will need to license your innovation to your startup:
- (Most) startups complete a Startup Option Agreement prior to executing a license. The option ensures that the startup has an exclusive period—1 year and extendable to 2 years—during which to license the innovation. The option period provides the startup an opportunity to seek early milestones and traction before determining whether to move ahead with a license.
- Please see our Licensing for Entrepreneurs & Startups page to learn about Licensing with EASE® (Express Agreement for Startup Entrepreneurs), which is an investor-approved, pre-negotiated deal that makes licensing fast and easy!