$1.5M venture fund created to encourage innovation, collaboration

The Colorado State University System today announced the creation of a $1.5 million venture capital fund to support innovation and promote collaboration in higher education.

“State funding for higher education has dropped more than $160 million since 2009, and we must find new ways to maintain quality and preserve access in response to the long-term trend of public divestment in higher education,” Chancellor Mike Martin said. “The goal of this new venture capital fund from the CSU System is to incubate and nurture ideas, programs and innovations that will make us better and help build a more durable and entrepreneurial university system that will continue to serve Colorado now and in the future.”

The CSU System Venture Capital Fund is open to students, staff, faculty of the CSU System, and projects, programs or initiatives of up to $500,000 will be considered. Proposals must be related to improving higher education, with a focus on supporting academic programs, expanding the system’s statewide presence, creating financial sustainability or improving Colorado’s future. It is preferred that proposals include an aspect of partnership and collaboration within the CSU System or between other higher education institutions.

“The future of higher education – particularly in a resource-constrained environment – is rooted in collaborating with both internal and external partners to produce better outcomes for Colorado citizens,” Martin said. “We’re committed to that philosophy within the CSU System, and our new venture capital fund will place a priority on projects that build new or expand existing partnerships to meet the demands of Colorado’s ever-changing economy and workforce.”

Applicants must deliver a proposal of no more than three pages that details the specific nature of the plan, partnerships or collaborations involved, expected outcomes and prospects for sustainability. An evaluation committee with representatives from both within and outside the CSU System will recommend which projects will be funded. The first round of proposals is due to the CSU System office by June 10, with funding available after July 1.

“The CSU System’s three institutions store a wealth of creativity and talent, and I’m confident this new venture capital fund will help us uncover great ideas that might not otherwise have been considered,” Martin said. “We also recognize that there is risk and not all of these ideas will work, but that’s the price of innovation and leadership. The CSU System is prepared to shoulder that risk because we must become more entrepreneurial in order to maintain quality and promote economic sustainability.”

The CSU System Venture Capital Fund Request for Proposals is available on www.csusystem.edu.


The CSU System Board of Governors has nine voting members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate, and six non-voting members who are faculty and student representatives from CSU, CSU-Pueblo and the CSU-Global Campus. The board provides oversight to ensure effective management, accountability and leadership at all the CSU System universities. More information: www.csusystem.edu.