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DU Brings Startup Nation to Denver Startup Week

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Daniels College of Business, Project X-ITE to host several events

Denver Startup Week

As many as 15,000 participants representing small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs will gather Sept. 12–16 for Denver Startup Week, an annual summit of entrepreneurial energy, innovation and connection. Now in its fifth year, the event was co-founded by University of Denver alumni Erik Mitisek (BA ’99) and Ben Deda (MBA ’11).

Denver Startup Week, which is the largest free event of its kind in the United States, features a mix of workshops, panel discussions, seminars and innovative opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect with one another. DU will have more than 80 volunteers at this year’s event.

“Denver Startup Week celebrates everything entrepreneurial in Denver,” says Mitisek, who also serves as executive director of DU’s Project X-ITE, a collaboration between the Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, the Daniels College of Business and the Sturm College of Law.

“It brings together the best companies in inspiring entrepreneurs to hopefully create the organizations and cities of the future.”

The Daniels College of Business will host three events and is bringing in from Israel a group of entrepreneurs known as Startup Nation. The entrepreneurs include: Ben Weiner of Jumpspeed Ventures; Roy Munin of Made in JLM; Yoram Dahan, creator of the Cal-Israel Innovation Expo; Sarah Prostak of Israel Investment Advisors; Gili Elkin of Syntech Bioenergy; and Oded Distel, the head of Israel’s New Tech Program.

“Israel is known for its entrepreneurial history. The country has become a wonderful hub for creativity and commerce,” says Daniels Professor Kerry Plemmons. “Daniels has a rich history of taking students to Israel to learn from their innovators. We hope to share that spirit with the Denver community.”

Members of Startup Nation will share their expertise and join other speakers from around the world at the following events:

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems Across Borders

Speakers: Ben Weiner, Jumpspeed; Roy Munin, Made in JLM; Ben Deda, Galvanize; Gov. John Hickenlooper, State of Colorado; Yoram Dahan, Innovation Expo

Time/Date: 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14

Location: Denver Startup Basecamp launched by Chase, 1515 Arapahoe St.


Energy, Clean Tech and a Secure Energy Future in the U.S. and Israel

Speakers: Oded Distel, Israel New Tech; Gili Elkin, SynTech Bioenergy; Wayne McFarland, SynTech Bioenergy; Mike Freeman Innosphere

Time/Date: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14

Location: The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St.


Investment, Capital and International Economic Partnerships

Speakers: David Gold, Access Venture Partners; Brian Abrams, Lazarus Fund; Sarah Prostak, Israel Investment Advisors

Time/Date: noon, Thursday, Sept. 15

Location: 1401 Wynkoop St., Suite 300


Additionally, Project X-ITE will host the first-ever Denver Startup Week Challenge, which Mitisek refers to as a “community-led challenge for the community, by the community and for the future of the community.” It’s the first time DU has partnered with Denver Startup Week.

The partnership between Project X-ITE — a cross-disciplinary initiative for projects focused on entrepreneurship, innovation and technology — and the Denver Startup Week Challenge will bring together teams of small businesses and startups who will pitch some of the best new ideas for an opportunity to win the “largest community-build prize in Denver Startup Week history.”

The tracks within the challenge will focus on Digital Health, Small Business (non-tech) and Technology. More than 150 teams applied to this year’s competition, but only 20 were selected to compete in the challenge.

“The Denver startup community continues to shine, and we were overwhelmed by the volume and the quality of submissions,” says Stephen Miller, senior director of Project X-ITE. “Many of the best submissions are ‘venture-quality,’ and I can’t wait to see the pitches live.”

The Startup Week Challenge schedule is as follows:

Startup Week Challenge Track 1

Time/Date: 4–5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13

Location: Comcast VIPER, 1515 Wynkoop St.


Startup Week Challenge Track 2

Time/Date: 4–5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13

Location: The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St.


Startup Week Challenge Track 3

Time/Date: 1–3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14

Location: Comcast VIPER, 1515 Wynkoop St.


Startup Week Challenge Track 4

Time/Date: 4–5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14

Location: The Commons on Champa, 1245 Champa St.


Teams will have seven minutes in the preliminary round to present, followed by three minutes of Q&A. The top two teams from each track will present in the grand finale at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.

The complete Denver Startup Week schedule is available here.