CSU Ventures marks 10 years of helping launch nearly 50 startups

Thursday November 17, 2016 Tags: Fort Collins, CSU Ventures, Todd Headley, Terry Opgenorth, Mike Freeman, Innosphere, Lyndsey Linke, Jeremy Podany, Chris White


FORT COLLINS -- Since its creation 10 years ago, CSU Ventures, the university’s tech transfer division, has racked up many milestones.CSU_Ventures_logoUSE

Led by president Todd Headley, 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.”

Headley said 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.

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.”

Opgenorth said Fort Collins has become a hotbed for innovation, providing a great opportunity for CSU Ventures and the university community.

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 the 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 FreemanInnosphere CEO.

“We’re very proud of the economic impact we’re created together here in Northern Colorado.”

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.

Headley’s team also spun out The Fairs App, a company founded by Jeremy Podany, executive director of Career and Support Services at CSU, and Chris White, a CSU web and mobile developer.

The app offers a branded mobile and online experience for career and job fairs. Universities now using the app include Cornell, Indiana, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and UC Santa Barbara.