Lab to Life Venture Studio receives $1.6 million in funding

EDA Venture Challenge grant will support program expansion
lab to life program hands on

CSU STRATA today announced they were awarded a Venture Challenge grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The organization was awarded $746,117 in funding from the EDA’s Build to Scale program and $872,628 in matching funds from CSU STRATA. The funds, totaling $1.6 million, will enable the Lab to Life Venture Studio to expand and increase its impact through CSU startup services into 2025.

The EDA’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship leads the national Build to Scale program. Through the program, the EDA awards and manages a portfolio of grants designed to increase regional capacity to strengthen ecosystems that equitably and inclusively support diverse technology innovators, entrepreneurs, and startups.

Lab to Life is a collaboration between Colorado State University and CSU STRATA is intended to build sustainable, growth-oriented startups from CSU research. The program was established in early 2022 to minimize risk and improve outcomes of high-potential CSU startups by providing an executive team and staff for 24 months to manage key build and launch decisions. The approach will support commercialization of research-based technologies by providing a team to lead and help carry the load, rather than training the inventor to do it all themselves, which is a reason many innovations fail to make it to market.

“We are thrilled to be selected for funding from among the 180 proposals submitted,” said Jim Poss, director of venture creation at CSU STRATA. “This grant solidifies the Lab to Life program and provides valuable support for our CSU startups.”

Lab to Life leverages the skills of experienced startup executives and executives-in-training (EITs) to transform intellectual property into startups over the two-year period. The program is unique in that it targets top faculty inventors who are unable or unwilling to make the significant time commitment required to become CEO and run a company. Instead, Lab to Life deploys its own personnel to transform research discoveries into fundable startups with 24 months of hands-on incubation, transitioning lab-based ideas into funded, independent operations with hired management teams. Lab to Life seeks to supplement, not compete with, existing entrepreneurship programs.

“When we began this program, I had high hopes that it was the right formula to help CSU startups by providing a turn-key ecosystem,” said Ajay Menon, president and CEO of CSU STRATA. “We are thrilled to see it come together.”

The Build to Scale program’s Venture Challenge seeks to advance technology-based economic development and through regional innovation ecosystems that promote the commercialization of new technologies, strengthen growing industry clusters, and lead to the expansion of high-paying economic opportunities in communities, regions, or combinations of regions. The Venture Challenge awards grants to organizations that enable startups to become the next generation of globally competitive, industry-leading companies and support regions in overcoming barriers that prevent would-be innovators from accessing these opportunities.