SparkLabs Group, a network of accelerators and venture capital funds, has launched a new accelerator program with Arizona State University named SparkLabs Frontier–ASU.
SparkLabs Frontier–ASU will provide training, mentors and investment funding for all participants across the university’s various schools and programs, including the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, W. P. Carey School of Business and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Additionally, the new program will be open to any ASU alumni.
ASU is the only university to ever be ranked the No. 1 most innovative school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, a top spot it has held for four straight years. ASU also is ranked 17th globally for patents in 2018 by the U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association, and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has one of the largest numbers of engineering students with more than 22,000 students enrolled.
“Entrepreneurial for ASU means partnerships and alliances, and it means driving ideas, technologies and inventions that matter, that will have real impact,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “Partnerships like this one with SparkLabs Group will move innovation and entrepreneurialism forward, which is necessary for the continuation of the success of the state, the country and the world.”
The accelerator program commences in July with applications opening on May 13. The program will be managed for ASU by ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, as a complement to the university’s hub for entrepreneurship services and resources provided to students, faculty, staff, alumni and the broader Phoenix community.
Different from other SparkLabs startup accelerators, SparkLabs Frontier–ASU will have a pre-accelerator component focused on developing individual students and program participants over the course of three or four months. The pre-accelerator program will help individuals develop their startup ideas and bring together co-founders and other factors to improve their chances to be accepted into the primary accelerator program run by SparkLabs Frontier–ASU. The training and seminars will cover topics such as team building, business ethics, startup fundraising and other relevant areas.
After the pre-accelerator portion, the four-month accelerator program will accept six to eight startups. A new requirement that the SparkLabs Group is implementing is the creation of 30 percent stock option vs. the standard of 10-20 percent for seed-stage startups.
“SparkLabs Frontier–ASU's mission is to identify, nurture and scale the development and growth of outstanding startup founders from ASU's world-leading blend of engineering, business and management talent and technology. This tremendously exciting partnership will bring ASU student and alumni companies into the SparkLabs family of over 200 world-class startups, helping to scale and realize their global ambitions,” said Frank Meehan, co-founder and partner at SparkLabs Group, who is best known for leading investments in DeepMind and Siri (at his prior firm).
SparkLabs Frontier–ASU will be working with select training partners such as the Global Scaling Academy. Co-founded by Jeff Abbott and Chris Yeh, the Global Scaling Academy helps organizations learn and apply the lessons of “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies” (blitzscaling.com), which Yeh co-authored with Reid Hoffman. The Global Scaling Academy will be a training partner for all SparkLabs Frontier accelerators.
“The Global Scaling Academy is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs everywhere create and scale massively valuable businesses. Working with SparkLabs Frontier–ASU helps bring the ideas of 'Blitzscaling' to tens of thousands of entrepreneurs,” said Yeh.
SparkLabs Fronter–ASU is supported by a world-class advisory board. Steven Johnson is the best-selling popular science author who wrote books such as “Everything Bad Is Good For You,” “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” and “The Ghost Map.” He is joined by Hammer (MC Hammer), Grammy Award-winning music artist, record producer and entrepreneur; Barry Munitz, chancellor emeritus of the California State University System; and Katharina Borchert, chief innovation officer at Mozilla. The Venture Partners for SparkLabs Frontier–ASU include: Chris Yeh, serial entrepreneur and co-author of The New York Times best-seller “The Alliance”; Jimmy Lin, founder of the Rare Genomics Institute and a TED Fellow; Jen Millard, chief revenue officer at GetUpside; and Jared Carney, CEO of Lightdale and former CSO and CMO at the Milken Institute.