Another year of CU Boulder’s New Venture Challenge, hosted by CU Innovation and Entrepreneurship, is in the books and a great group of founders walked away with more than $100k USD in funding for their ideas this year. As a 2021 I&E partner, Patents Integrated would like to congratulate all of the teams that participated in NVC14 and highlight this year’s winners.

Having had a chance to talk about IP strategy with several of the participating founders, we know firsthand that all of the competitors were very strong. Patents Integrated is proud to count a number of former NVC winners as clients, and we are looking forward to seeing where these winning teams go with their future businesses!

1st Place: $30,000 grand prize + $25,000 investment: HUG Solutions

Drawing inspiration from the doctors, vaccine distributors and administrators working to end the COVID-19 pandemic, HUG Solutions developed a portable vaccine transportation cooler called PortaVax that’s capable of carrying mRNA vaccines at -70 degrees Celsius for up to four days. The device can hold up to 250 doses, and is designed to be low-cost, robust, and reliable in order to make vaccines more accessible in a variety of different environments. That’s a big deal as public health officials work to deliver viable vaccines to rural and other hard to reach areas. The company was founded by CU Boulder students Brayden Shelley, Claire Meyer, Haocheng Yu, Erik Skooglund, and Evan Kirk. 

2nd Place: $21,000 prize + $25,000 investment: Sarus

Founded by CU senior Dustin Ramsey, Sarus is developing cutting-edge site evaluation, crane selection, and lift planning technology to make construction job sites safer than ever before. The startup’s 3D rangefinder will allow site managers to make precise measurements on job sites in order to develop safe lift plans for construction projects that involve heavy machinery.  

3rd Place: $16,000 prize: ToobTek

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of intubation training for medical professionals. More than 70% of critically ill Covid-19 patients received intubation and invasive mechanical ventilation support during their care and healthcare workers worldwide agree that intubation saves lives. But it isn’t an easy skill to master, which is why ToobTek is developing an anatomically accurate model of the human airway, 3D printed with a tissue-like plastic, to providers to practice on.

4th Place: $13,000 prize: Seedling Biosystems

Seedling Biosystems is using soybeans to scale production of major and minor cannabinoids (CBD) through synthetic biology. It’s first product, a soy-based CBD, shows promise as an environmentally friendly alternative to the energy and labor intensive cultivation of Cannabis Sativa.

5th Place: Orbital Biodesign & LGBT50 (tie): $10,000 prize each

Founded by Dr. Danielle Carroll, who is pursuing dual-masters degrees in bioastronautics and engineering management at CU Boulder, Orbital Biodesign aims to improve blood flow for surgeons who spend hours on their feet by developing a device incorporating robotic technology into a sleeve that goes around the lower leg, reducing the probability of venous insufficiency and varicose veins. LGBT50 was awarded $10,000 for its software-enabled, influencer marketing agency focusing on the LGBTQ+ community on TikTok and Instagram that connects brands with prominent influencers who align with their campaign goals.

Audience Choice: $1,000 prize: Chembotix

Chembotix is developing a robotic automation platform to dramatically speed up chemistry research & development.

Congratulations again to all the winners, as well as the other teams that participated in NVC14. As I’ve said before, Patents Integrated exists to help hardware founders and startups not only protect their IP but better understand how it can turn into an asset for their long-term success. Without a strong IP strategy in place, even early-stage founders run the risk of their hard work stolen by a competitor or patented by someone else. That’s a fact. And, at the same time, there is so much more than IP can do to help a young company scale and succeed that is too often overlooked.

NVC14 is a reminder of the amazing network of innovators that we have right here in Boulder, and I couldn’t be prouder to call myself a CU alum. 

Miss the finals? Here’s the replay of the presentations.