SPARK Awards support technologies that are within one or two key milestones of a commercial transaction or follow-on investment.
SPARK Awards are open to eligible University of Colorado Anschutz principal investigators. Cross-disciplinary teams are encouraged to apply.
Note that if you have been funded in the past by SPARK, or by the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade Advanced Industries Proof of Concept Grant, additional SPARK Award funding might be restricted by maximum award limitations for the same project. Please contact SPARKCU@UCDENVER.EDU for more information.
SPARK Awards support therapeutics, medical devices, and diagnostics addressing unmet medical needs. If you are developing a digital health solution, please see digiSPARK.
Projects must be an idea or invention based on University of Colorado Anschutz or CU Denver intellectual property. Preference will be given to projects with a patent pending or where a provisional patent application covering the technology has been filed. Technologies already optioned or licensed to a company are not eligible.
Click here to submit an invention disclosure form.
Projects must be within a few actionable steps of a commercial transaction with strong indications of commercial interest. We encourage innovators to connect with CU Innovations early in the research process to receive the full benefit of our technology transfer resources and to prepare for a SPARK Award.
Successful applicants will already have convincing, reproducible proof-of-concept data (including strong prototype or in vivo efficacy data) as well as early market analyses and an understanding of the customer. Prior to applying for a SPARK Award, we encourage investigators to complete programs such as I-Corps@CCTSI where a significant amount of customer discovery is conducted.
Successful teams will have a strong desire and willingness to learn, receive guidance from industry experts, and commit the time necessary to translate their technology from the lab to the marketplace. During the preparation of their application, at least one member of the team will be required to participate in the bootcamp.
Once funded, teams should expect to commit a minimum of 10 hours per month to commercial development activities, meetings, and events, in addition to lab-based product development/ideation.
SPARK Fellows meet with their project managers at least once a month to track milestones and connect to resources.
SPARK Fellows also expected to attend weekly sessions featuring presentations from awardees or cohort specific educational seminars. Each team provides quarterly updates to the SPARK advisors and receives project-specific feedback from our community.
1st Wednesday – Oncology Therapeutics
2nd Wednesday – Other Therapeutics
3rd Wednesday – Medical Devices and Diagnostics
4th Wednesday – Seminar or Workshop
The SPARK Funding Program focuses on commercial product development and does not support basic science research. Projects coming out of the program will be ready for:
Licensing technology to an existing company
Formation of a startup ready for SBIR/STTR submission and/or
Submission of Advanced Industries Early-Stage Capital and Retention Grant and/or
Receiving independent financing either through venture capital or non-federal funds
Major industry-sponsored research agreements
For more information about SPARK Awards, please review our FAQs. Interested applicants are encouraged to reach out to SPARKCU@UCDENVER.EDU or your CU Innovations Case Manager (contact Chad Stanker for more information) before or early in the application period to discuss eligibility, program requirements, and application preparation.