Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program

Entrepreneurial Fellows Program

The Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program is an immersive learning journey for students passionate about entrepreneurship, innovation, design, and all forms of creativity. Created in partnership with the College of Arts & Media; the College of Engineering, Design and Computing; and the Business School, this program provides students an unparalleled opportunity to develop a new creative venture, establish professional networks, and build leadership skills.

The Program

Up to 24 CU Denver students are selected from across the university to rapidly develop entrepreneurial competency and leadership skills by completing team-based projects, working closely with professional mentors, and participating in on- and off-campus networking events. Student teams identify compelling challenges, design and test solutions, and discover a viable business model for their ideas. Design Fellows are able to pitch at startup events, meet regional investors in the Denver Metro region, and launch their own high-impact creative ventures. 

With a focus on inclusivity, social engagement, and innovation, our goal is to empower and launch the next generation of creative industry leaders. Any CU Denver student can apply. Preference will be given to students from the College of Arts & Media; the College of Engineering, Design and Computing; and the Business School. 

Design Horizons is postponed until 2024. 
Design Horizons
Top Benefits
  • Earn a micro-credential for your resume and career building.
  • Make a difference in Denver and in your field of interest.
  • Receive a $1,000 personal stipend.
  • Access an additional budget of $1,500 per team to build your venture prototype.
  • Grow your professional network with other like-minded, ambitious students, creatives, and industry professionals.
  • Be mentored and coached by professional entrepreneurs to help develop your own high-impact venture.
  • Build a versatile entrepreneurial skill set and mindset.
  • Participate in networking events, including exclusive pitch opportunities, with industry and community leaders.

As a Design Horizons Fellow, you’ll explore topics in business, team dynamics, and social design to learn what it takes to become a successful creative entrepreneur. There are three primary expectations to complete the program.

Once selected, a Design Fellow’s primary responsibility is to 1) show up, 2) make connections, and 3) grow your network and skill set. The curriculum is designed around a central project you’ll develop with a team of 3-4 other Design Fellows. Depending on how far you get, there is the opportunity to pitch and launch your new creative venture. To complete the program, Design Fellows need to attend:

  • Kickoff Event: Initial Design Innovation Sprint
  • Design Horizons Saturday Sessions (once per month)
  • Weekly meetings with your team (1-2 hours)
  • Monthly meetings with your team’s mentor (1-2 hours)
  • An average 5-10 hours of individual work every week
  • Two or more regional events related to entrepreneurship and/or networking
  • PLUS! Submission of startup company pitch and associated materials for THE CLIMB

To receive full consideration, students need to submit their application by the priority deadline. You’ll be asked four questions:

  1. What skills are you hoping to utilize or improve through this program?
  2. What excites you about being an entrepreneur? Feel free to tell us a story about an innovator who inspired you.
  3. What type of impact (social, community, economic, or other) are you hoping to make given what you will learn through Design Horizons?
  4. You have an idea, and it will help 200,000 people. To get this idea off the ground, you will need to work 80 hours a week over the next 3 months with a brand new team. In an entrepreneurial startup, what role would you ideally like to play?

Important Program Dates

Check back in 2024. 

Regional Events to Attend:

  • April 2023
    THE CLIMB | Startup Pitch Competition
Design Horizons is postponed until 2024.
Project Examples
  • Vijay’s band was struggling to book gigs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. He joined the Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program with the dream of creating a vibrant and interactive local online music scene for Denver’s musicians.
  • Amanda and her team designed some new AR/VR approaches to connect patients in rural and developing areas with clinicians in urban areas, where healthcare is more accessible.
  • Fernando and Vanessa carpool to campus together from Arvada and are seeking solutions for the city to launch a student carpooling service that is less expensive than driving and faster than buses.
  • Having read about how millions of girls in Africa drop out of school once they begin menstruating, Sara is determined to design attractive and low-cost, reusable menstrual products so that more girls can finish high school and build pathways out of poverty.
Our Mission

Our mission is to effect change by providing our Design Fellows with the skills, networks, and platforms to successfully pursue their passions.

Our Design Fellows acquire the skills they need to excel in an academically rigorous, experiential learning environment energized by creative exchange, real-world experience, and diversity of voice.


We believe in a culture of shared discovery. Our Design Fellows learn by doing, and as emerging peers, are important contributors to the knowledge exchange. We value rigorous investigation, critical thinking, diversity, collaboration, experimentation, and invention.

Creative Excellence

Academic and artistic rigor, creativity, and innovation are bedrock principles of the CU Denver community and the cornerstone of how we define excellence. As champions of inclusive creative excellence, we support risk-taking, intellectual freedom, and social responsibility.


We are committed to learning both inside and outside the classroom. The accessibility, diversity, and cultural energy of Denver make CU Denver a better place to teach, work, and learn. We strive to offer reciprocal experiences to the citizens of this great city and pay it forward by extending our reach and impact in the global community.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes. Every fellow receives a $1,000 stipend… and a line on your resume!

No. This is considered co-curricular and not part of your academic schedule.

We will consider an independent credit-bearing option on a case-by-case basis, dependent on your academic unit of record.

The time commitment will average about five to ten hours per week, plus the monthly full-day labs. Note: You’ll be building a functional creative venture prototype with your team. This will require a significant time commitment. As a group, all Fellows will have sessions one Saturday per month from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., as well as weekly check-ins with your team, mentors, and community contacts.

No. We will help you find your tribe and identify your project. It is also OK if you already have a plan and know other CU Denver students who you want on your team. Note: Your team will include Fellows outside of your area of study, even if you already have friends you want to include.

There will be shared lab/meeting space available.

Lifelong networks. A possible creative venture spinoff. Friends and colleagues for life. A community. Skills to do anything you want.

Yes. This program is open to all CU Denver current and incoming undergraduate students, with priority given to CAM, CEDC, and Business School students.

Yes. You’ll receive a non-transcripted credential for your Design Horizons Fellowship.

Any CU Denver student can apply before the deadline, after which interviews will be conducted during the first few weeks of December 2021. All Fellows will be required to sign a participant agreement once selected.

Preference will be given to those who can fully participate. 100% participation is expected.

For more information, please email us at