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Our Strategy | Stage Focus

UpStart is exclusively focused on seed and early-stage investments, filling an underserved niche, which has traditionally provided returns that are superior to other stages of private equity investment.  Our portfolio companies are based on “deep technology” sourced from the research of ground-breaking scientists in Utah and nearby states and incubated for many years in academic labs.

Investing in seed and early-stage healthcare

Despite an impressive array of life science technologies that have spun out from universities in the region, UpStart is alone in exclusively focusing on seed and early-stage opportunities life science investing.

An increasingly sparse field

The last 10 years have seen a marked decrease in seed and early-stage investments by the U.S. venture capital industry as established players gravitate to later-stage investments. With ever-larger funds, that no longer have the time required to actively oversee small start-up investments and require larger deal sizes to “move the needle” of return on investments. The proof-of-principle hurdle for initial investment by many funds has been raised from promising animal results to compelling human data.

Working with academic co-founders

We choose scientific co-founders with care, not only for the commercial potential of their science but also for their personal motivation to bring it to the marketplace expeditiously and advance the treatment of disease. Their ability to focus on the key research for a sustained period of time and reliably meet milestones for its development are important considerations. The Fund’s Principals have a close working relationship with the technology transfer offices at the area universities, particularly the University of Utah and Utah State University.

Optimizing efficient use of capital

Instead of transferring the licensed technology out of its academic setting at the time of company formation, UpStart supports its development in the university labs with investment and sponsored research support at least until preclinical proof-of-concept is achieved. This minimizes infrastructure expenses of facilities, equipment and employees until substantial value is added to the companies.

FOCUS » Sector         FOCUS » Stage         FOCUS » Regional

  Why Seed Stage?


  1. Unrealized potential that requires domain expertise to uncover

  2. Highly efficient deployment of capital

  3. Generating value through careful incubation

  4. Great science is inside every university but commercialization and global reach of that technology turns great science into great companies.


  1. Careful selection of promising technology

  2. Cash efficiency: keep costs low and obtain non-dilutive grant financing 

  3. Daily oversight through local presence

  4. Creating exits proactively

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