CU Boulder deep tech companies—those based on science and engineering—recently set records for raising capital, acquisitions and going public, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These companies were founded on university research innovations or were founded by university researchers. Collectively, the companies raised $2 billion in funding in the past fiscal year and saw exits—events in which companies are acquired or go public—of $18 billion. The amount raised and total number of exits are both annual records for CU Boulder’s deep tech companies.
By working with Venture Partners at CU Boulder, the university’s commercialization arm, campus innovators-turned-startup-founders engage in programs to translate their research into new solutions, businesses and partnerships that address the world’s greatest challenges.
One of these standout companies, Solid Power, is an industry-leading all-solid-state battery producer for electric vehicles. Last year, Solid Power raised $135 million from investors that included Ford and BMW, as well as another $515 million through a popular way of going public called a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Solid Power is set to begin trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange this year and was valued at $1.8 billion at the time of the SPAC. The company’s technology originated from the labs of Se-Hee Lee and Conrad Stoldt, professors in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Other notable deep tech startups that contributed to the $2 billion in funding raised include Somalogic (Larry Gold, molecular, cellular and developmental biology), Inscripta (Ryan Gill, chemical and biological engineering), Edgewise Therapeutics (Leslie Leinwand, molecular, cellular and developmental biology), OnKure Therapeutics (Xuedong Liu, biochemistry) and ColdQuanta (Dana Anderson, physics).
Among the FY21 startup exits, Myokardia (Leinwand) led the way with a $13.1 billion acquisition by pharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb. Myokardia makes targeted therapies for serious cardiovascular diseases and, following Gilead’s purchase of Myogen for $2.6 billion in 2006, is the second company co-founded by Leinwand to be acquired in a major transaction.