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Since its creation 10 years ago, CSU Ventures, the university’s tech transfer division, has racked up many milestones. Led by Todd Headley, who serves as president, the team has worked with students and researchers to:
- file 1,381 patent applications,
- sign 369 license agreements,
- establish 1,064 inventions and
- launch 49 startup companies.
CSU Ventures has also tallied almost $19 million in licensing income over the last decade.
Headley said the progress and accomplishments have been nothing short of remarkable.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “We have some great startups and we’ve made a lot of progress. In the last 10 years, we have had more licenses, startups and patent applications filed than the university had in the previous 40 years.”
University investment key to success
Headley said that the university’s investment in CSU Ventures has made the difference.
“University leaders have Invested in personnel, hiring people with experience in entrepreneurship and innovation,” Headley said. “We’ve also seen more engagement with faculty and industry.”
The numbers highlight the rise in engagement: CSU inventor participation increased 113 percent when compared with the previous 10 years.
Another key to CSU Ventures’ success: The team is always evolving.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had different structures and approaches,” Headley said. “We are always trying to figure out what the most contemporary approach is. It evolves over time, how we create and support startups, philosophies on faculty outreach, and we continue to think about the best way to do that.”
CSU Ventures was founded in 2006 and now has 11 full-time employees. Ten years ago, that number was four.
Terry Opgenorth is among those who have joined CSU Ventures during the last decade. Prior to coming on board, he spent 20 years in the drug discovery arm at Abbott Laboratories.
New framework supports startups
Opgenorth is actively engaged with CSU startup companies and is a co-founder and chief scientific officer for VetDC, which is developing cancer therapeutics for dogs and cats. Opgenorth also leads NewCo Launchpad, which formalizes a framework for CSU Ventures support of startup companies.
The new program capitalizes on experienced staff, including Opgenorth and Steve Albers, licensing manager at CSU Ventures and founder of startup Living Ink.
“We can connect CSU researchers and students with companies in the larger entrepreneurial realm,” Opgenorth said. “Ventures has worked with a number of community resources to put together a road map for how can we match startups with resources in the community to push these companies forward.”
Fort Collins has become a hotbed for innovation, which provides a great opportunity for CSU Ventures and the university community, according to Opgenorth.
CSU Ventures counts high-tech incubator Innosphere, Innovation Center of the Rockies, Rockies Venture Club and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Internal Trade among its many partners.
In September, Innosphere was awarded $50,000 to support more startup companies from the Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. Officials there collaborated with CSU Ventures to land this grant.
“We value our decade-long partnership with CSU and CSU Ventures, because together we’ve played a major role in commercializing new technologies coming out of the university,” said Mike Freeman, Innosphere CEO. “We’re very proud of the economic impact we’re created together here in Northern Colorado.”
Startups impacting society
The realm of startup companies and economic development fits perfectly with CSU’s land-grant mission of providing a service to society, research that transforms the world, and education to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Between 2011 to 2015, startup companies from CSU employed 1,200 people and raised more than $150 million in funding.
“We’re licensing a lot of technology within Colorado, and impacting society as part of our mission,” Headley said.
In the last year, CSU Ventures launched five new startup companies, including the award-winning startup SiVEC Biotechnologies, founded by CSU research scientist Lyndsey Linke. SiVEC is developing an antiviral technology to prevent the transmission of avian influenza, a global concern.
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