Venture Creation

Lab-to-Life Program

Our Objective

The L2L team works to find product-market fit, build business models, incorporate new startups, create effective collateral, develop financials, and identify early customers, making the startup investable. The key success metrics for L2L include 1) portfolio IRR, based on the number and quality of new startups, and 2) acquisition of seed funding for the startups in under two years each. 

To find out if you are a good fit for the L2L program, please complete the Lab to Life Idea Survey.

The Lab-to-Life (L2L) program was established in early 2022 to de-risk and improve the outcomes of high-potential CSU startups. L2L is a highly selective startup incubator —building new companies based on research discoveries within the Colorado State University System. With over $445M in annual research expenditures, the CSU system produces significant advancements, many of which present strong commercialization opportunities. Uniquely, the L2L program is fueled by a “CXO team,” a composite of experienced executives and top business school students who are incubating multiple startups with a hands-on approach to initiating startups rather than advising or educating. The program operates efficiently by pairing experience with talent, running an Agile process, and using modern tools. As a result, the program is poised to become an evergreen fund, plowing proceeds back into the program – creating quality jobs, societal benefits, investor returns, and educational support in perpetuity.

Researchers develop innovative technologies but lack the business prowess necessary to run a company while maintaining their research positions. L2L serves as a co-founding team, which runs and manages legal, branding, marketing, business development, market research, and administrative activities. Inventors retain the majority stake in their companies, needing no upfront costs. They take on the role of CTO and co-founder, while the CXO team acts as an interim co-founder to handle all organizational needs. Inventors are only responsible for advancing their technology, and the CXO team will build the company. 

Common University Tech Transfer Failure Points: 

  1.  Researchers often lack the desires or skills to be a CEO. 
  2.  Building a product because a technology exists, not because a market demands it. 
  3.  Frustration and inability to navigate a lengthy, complicated legal process.
  4.  Prematurely launching businesses without an experienced team due to lack of network, access, or time. 


L2L Solutions to Failure Points:

  1. The L2L model provides Researchers with a team of startup experts, eliminating the need for prior business knowledge. Through the L2L partnership, Researchers can continue to focus on their research while the team works to allow their innovations to reach the world. 
  2. The L2L team has developed a customer discovery process, validating each technology’s demand and specific market. This saves time and money for the inventor and accelerates the sales process. 
  3. The CXO Team has developed inventor- and investor-friendly contracts/deals to incorporate the new entities. It has been tested among faculty Researchers, CSURF administration leaders, Licensing Directors, and venture funds to ensure all key stakeholders welcome it. Notably, the CSU/CSURF model provides more service and equity retention in the startups, supporting the program’s financial viability in future years to create a growing evergreen fund that helps commercialize university research nationally. 
  4. The L2L team is full of diverse backgrounds with specialties in every aspect of business, eliminating the need to hire a team to start a business. With L2L’s expertise, Researchers are equipped with a creative and capable team to accelerate their innovation. 
  1. Must be faculty, staff or a student at one of the CSU System campuses, or a direct affiliate of the System.
  2. Must be licensing CSU-owned intellectual property.
  3. Must complete the screening process and be approved for inclusion in the program by the Venture Creation team at CSU STRATA.

The CXO Team Includes:

  •   An Interim CEO for the startups (Jim Poss, Managing Director of Venture Creation at CSURF)
  •   Two “generalist” Executives in Residence (EIRs); more as company count increases
  •   Five specialist EIRs (software executives and a fractional CFO)
  •   Five Executives in Training (EITs); student employees, more as company count increases.