What’s the value of an R1 research university with $630M of annual sponsored research and over 35,500 talented students to Boulder’s startup community? A whole lot.
The University of Colorado Boulder is a powerhouse that feeds and supports the robust startup community. Silicon Valley wouldn’t be the same without Stanford, and CU Boulder is equally a force within Boulder.
Did you know that as of the 2019 fiscal year, CU Boulder had:
- 144 new inventions
- $616 million in capital funding raised by startups commercializing CU Boulder technology
- 46 license and option deals executed
- 6 new startups founded by faculty researchers and innovators
In a way, CU Boulder is like a 150-year old startup. While that may sound funny, the origins of CU Boulder are very entrepreneurial. Citizens had to find space (six citizens donated 49 acres of land), raise money (the state legislature approved $15,000 for construction of the university as long as the community matched the amount), and get buy-in from the community and would-be customers. In 1875, Colorado citizens laid the cornerstone for the university’s first building, Old Main, and officially founded CU in 1876, the same year Colorado joined the union. The university opened its doors the following year with 44 students, a president and one instructor. It took grit, innovation and creativity — the same traits today’s startup entrepreneurs have.
Today, CU Boulder aims to be a leader in addressing the humanitarian, social, and technological challenges of the twenty-first century. This vision informs the Chancellor’s three strategic imperatives, namely:
- Shape tomorrow’s leaders,
- Be the top university for innovation, and
- Positively impact humanity.
CU’s origin story and continued “scale up” growth continue to fuel its strategic imperatives — especially to be the top innovation university. With the launch of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative in 2017, the university has aimed to:
- Collapse the campus,
- Connect the town and the community,
- Create meaningful growth across the innovation ecosystem, and
- Build awareness around opportunities to engage in and gain entrepreneurial experiences.
CU Boulder rivals the best of the best, and they provide fantastic resources to the entrepreneurial community. From Entrepreneurs in Residence to guest lectures to amazing mentors, the community engagement is felt deep and wide across campus, and that’s what makes it a strong campus and community network.
Even during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the university continues to be abuzz with more entrepreneurship than ever. Faculty, staff and students at CU Boulder have met this challenging time with creativity and innovation, crafting impactful solutions that reach far beyond Boulder. Here are some ways that CU Boulder is providing support to the community:
- COventure Forward, a resource for guidance and mentorship for small businesses and entrepreneurs as they navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
- Feed the Frontlines Boulder, started by CU Engineering’s Kyle Judah, executive director of entrepreneurship, amongst other community members. They have already raised over $600k and provided 6,700 meals for frontline workers in Boulder!
- Humankind, powered by CU Boulder students, connects volunteers with groups and individuals in need.
- CU Boulder students and faculty are making medical and protective equipment for Colorado healthcare workers using university labs and makerspaces.
CU Boulder also hosted its 12th annual New Venture Challenge virtually this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. With a record 146 ventures that participated, this year boasted stiff competition. Finalists ranged from probiotic therapy for mental health conditions to a saliva based “sick stick” that detects if you are sick before you develop symptoms — an extremely relevant innovation for today’s times. Judges awarded more than $125,000 and more than 900 people tuned in from all over the country to watch, making it the most successful NVC yet.
“While COVID-19 has presented significant challenges to our community, observing the inspiring response from CU Boulder’s students, faculty and staff has been the silver lining. We saw all parts of campus teaming to stand up initiatives that are helping community, and we’ve also been teaming across the state with other universities to band together and consolidate our support. ” said Chris Gustavson, director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at CU Boulder. “Additionally, it’s a unique opportunity to team with Boulder Startup Week to energize our community’s small business engines that are so critical during this time.”
The university is dedicated to supporting its entrepreneurial students, staff, and faculty, as well as the startup ecosystem into which these entrepreneurs launch their ideas. Thank you for your service to the community, CU Boulder. Go Buffs!