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Welcome to the 2020 SPARK | REACH Colorado Program Application Portal!

The SPARK | REACH Program focuses on technologies addressing unmet medical needs to bridge the “translational gap” between the lab bench and the patient. By providing a community of industry advisors, investors, and product development experts, SPARK | REACH is successfully advancing new diagnostics and drugs to the clinic and commercial sectors from CU Anschutz faculty.

SPARK | REACH Program recently became one of the NIH funded REACH hubs and was awarded $4M to accelerate the commercialization of CU Anschutz Medical Campus technologies. Apart from funding, industry mentorship and education related to product development and commercialization, now through REACH, the program will provide access to key federal partners including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), relevant companies and organizations within industry, and the angel and venture capital investment communities.

SPARK | REACH Colorado program is now accepting applications to its third cohort for 2020-2022.

Join us on our mission to help brilliant scientists and clinicians create technologies to benefit patients and society!

Connecting Leading Experts in Industry and Academia

The success of this program is dependent on the unique partnerships between the University and industry experts. This is a platform for both parties to exchange information and learn from each other. Faculty participating in the program are expected to engage in active learning as it will require experimenting in areas that are not part of the traditional academic curriculum. You will need to learn about and reflect on ways to get your drug or device through regulatory approval, you will have to find out how your ‘product’ would be paid. This is a program about product development and you will have to learn and practice key components of it. The program will bring in key expertise from industry to help you navigate your path.

What is New This Year 

This year, funding for SPARK | REACH Colorado comes from two main sources; the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade’s (OEDIT) Advanced Industries Accelerator (AIA) program and the NIH.

This combination of resources seeks to provide greater sustainability for the program as well as provide better stewardship over the state's AIA funding pool.

Applicants are encouraged to reach out to sparkcu@ucdenver.edu with any questions about eligibility, and/or to discuss ways in which their applications may be strengthened, especially with regards to the commercialization section of the application.

SPARK team will also hold office hours and workshops to help you fill out your application and find out data about market research or regulatory pathway. The dates of these sessions will be announced on CU Innovations webpage in the coming days.

Values to SPARK Scholars

The SPARK | REACH Program at CU Anschutz includes funding, mentorship, education, and advising for promising product proposals, and is open to all faculty on the Anschutz campus. Faculty in other CU campuses are encouraged to participate, however they would need an Anschutz faculty to apply as the lead. The program will provide:

  • Funding: $100,000 grant over two years for novel therapeutics, devices, and diagnostics for unmet medical needs           
  • Mentorship: Teams will have access to expert advisors with experience in biotech, startups, law, commercialization, etc.
  • Education: Bi-weekly educational seminars will be available to all and will include a variety of topics in research, science, and business development.

Since this is a proof of concept program and the major focus is on product development rather than scientific research, it will require active participation and time commitment of faculty admitted. Once you complete the program, the expectations are that you would have proof of concept data for your project and a broad understanding of key components and requirements of commercialization that is taking an idea from lab bench to market.

Who Should Apply and Who is Eligible

The applicant must be an eligible principal investigator. To check for eligibility, click here.

You should consider applying for the SPARK program if you meet any or all of the following criteria:

  • Developing a medical device technology
  • Developing a diagnostic technology
  • Developing a pharmaceutical product

Unfortunately, this program is not suitable for innovators working exclusively on digital health technologies at this time. If you fall into this category, we encourage you to explore the CCTSI NSF iCorps Program.

Guidelines and Key Deadlines

  • Please fill out the application form online at the APPLY NOW link above
  • The required Budget and Timeline template document for your submission is available as a download here.
  • The applications will close on January 20th, 2020.
  • The submissions will be reviewed by a panel of external industry experts. Selected projects will then be submitted to the NIH review panel comprised of representatives from NIH, USPTO, FDA, Kaiser Permanente, and CMS. The feedback received from both groups will be shared with applicants faculty.
  • Final Presentations/Pitches will be held over two days in the second half of March 2020.
  • Investigators whose applications are selected for presentation will be notified by the end of March 2020.
  • The SPARK | REACH Colorado team will assist selected investigators to complete a web-based questionnaire required by the State of Colorado
  • Please contact the SPARK team, sparkcu@ucdenver.edu with any questions. 


The SPARK | REACH Colorado Program is run internally at CU Innovations and, while it does benefit from AIA funding, is separate from the statewide AIA competition run by Colorado's OEDIT. The SPARK Colorado and statewide AIA programs have different timelines, funding amounts, and other details. To apply to SPARK Colorado, please only use the details provided on this page and within the application site. Please do not use the application guidelines on the OEDIT AIA website when applying for SPARK Colorado

Lunch and Learn 

Join us to learn more about Spark. Light refreshments will be provided. 

  • Thursday December 12th – 12pm-1pm | Education 2 North (P28) - P28-2302
  • Tuesday, January 7th – 12pm – 1pm | Education 2 North (P28) - P28-1206  

SPARK Open Office Hours - (CU Innovations Offices - Fitzsimmons Building, 5th floor, Suite W5130)

Questions? Help with your application? Stop by our office and we can assist you. 

  • Friday, December 6th – 12pm -1pm
  • Monday, December 16th – 12pm-1pm 


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