Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program

Entrepreneurial Fellows Program

The Design Horizons Entrepreneurial Fellows Program is an immersive nine-month 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 & 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 will be selected from across the university to rapidly develop entrepreneurial competency and leadership skills through completing team-based projects, working closely with professional mentors, and participating in on- and off-campus networking events. Student teams will identify compelling challenges, design and test solutions, and discover a viable business model for their ideas. Design Fellows will be 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 undergraduate or graduate student can apply or be nominated by a faculty member or mentor. Preference will be given to students from the College of Arts & Media, the College of Engineering, Design & Computing, and the Business School. 

Applications for the next cohort are open and due by Friday, July 2, 2021.
Design Horizons
Top Benefits
  • Grow your professional network with other like-minded, ambitious students, creatives, and industry professionals
  • Make a difference in Denver and in your field of interest
  • Earn the distinguished title of Design Horizons Fellow to list on your resume and business cards
  • Receive a $1,000 stipend
  • 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:

  • Design Innovation – Horizons Session (potentially one Saturday per month for 6 hours)
  • Weekly Meetings with Entrepreneurship Student Team (minimum 1-2 hours)
  • Monthly Meeting with External Mentor
  • Weekly Standup Meeting with DH Facilitator (15-30 minutes)
  • Average of 5-10 hours of individual work by each fellow during the week
  • Regional events related to entrepreneurship and innovation (about once a month), including Denver Startup Week and pitch competitions in November and April
  • Primary communication & collaboration channel in SLACK

To be considered for this program, students can either fill out their own application or be nominated by a faculty or mentor. You’ll be asked three questions:

  1. What type of social, community, or economic-related project do you want to work on as a Fellow?
  2. Why do you believe this is an important issue to solve?
  3. Who will benefit from you solving this issue?

Important Program Dates

July 2
Applications due for full consideration (applications remain open until program fills)

July 7
Application review begins (applications remain open until program fills)

Applicant interviews

August 1
Cohort announced

August 19-20
Initial Design Innovation Sprint (full-day commitment for both days)

Regional Events to Attend:

  • October 4-8
    Denver Startup Week
  • November 10
    THE CLIMB | Jake Jabs Business Plan Competition
Applications are now open for the 2021-2022 Cohort.
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.

Design Horizons Leaders
Kristin Wood

Kristin L. Wood, PhD, ASME Fellow

Dr. Kristin L. Wood is currently the Senior Associate Dean of Innovation and Engagement at the College of Engineering, Design & Computing (CEDC); Executive Director of the Comcast Media and Technology Center; and Interim Director of Inworks at CU Denver and the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Dr. Wood has published more than 550 refereed articles and books (~20,000 citations; h-Index – 62); has received more than 110 awards in design, research, and education; consulted with more than 100 companies (MNCs and SMEs) worldwide; led or mentored over 25 startup companies; and is currently a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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.

You can either apply on your own or be nominated by a faculty or mentor. 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 contact