ASU launches free summer program for aspiring innovators
ASU is seeking aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators and inventors who want to develop their ideas into solutions, products and services in a free summer program.
The university is recruiting participants for AREA48 (Applied Regional Economic Activity), a revolutionary new “formation space” that provides early-stage entrepreneurs with opportunities to access human and knowledge assets. While AREA48 is open to anyone, ASU is particularly seeking participation from retirees, veterans rejoining the civilian workforce and knowledge workers seeking new opportunities.
Located in a former restaurant in downtown Tempe, AREA48 supports the development of entrepreneurs by providing a central place for them to connect, collaborate and create as well as receive mentorship, advice and practical business training. There is no cost to participate in AREA48, which runs from June through September. Anyone interested in participating may apply online.
The initiative, which is run by ASU Venture Catalyst – the university’s startup unit – is funded by a grant from the Blackstone Organizational Grants Program, an annual $1 million program targeting organizations that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Through this program, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is helping innovative organizations that directly support entrepreneurs to pilot, expand or replicate projects or programs that will catalyze the growth of successful businesses, industries and communities.
“AREA48 provides an opportunity to harvest untapped human resources to create high-growth ventures that will spur long-term economic growth and job creation in Arizona,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “In addition, it will become a feeder to the state’s entire entrepreneurial ecosystem, including accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces.”
At AREA48, participants from diverse backgrounds who have varied skill sets will learn to use new product development and Lean methodologies to turn ideas into solutions, products and services. The initiative’s practitioner-oriented approach allows participants to engage in hands-on activities ranging from prototyping products, to establishing a social enterprise, to turning a hobby into a business.
AREA48, which officially opens June 24, is housed in the former Bamboo Club restaurant at 699 S. Mill Ave., in Tempe. The location features team huddle spaces, areas for prototyping and testing products, classroom space for “pracademic” courses and a “showcase space” open to the public.
ASU Venture Catalyst will offer its highly successful Rapid Startup School at AREA48, with classes on topics ranging from customer development, fundraising and business modeling to product development, marketing strategies and intellectual property. In addition, ASU faculty who teach entrepreneurship and innovation will serve as academics-in-residence.
AREA48’s location is also an innovative way of solving the problem of vacant buildings that is so prevalent in urban and downtown areas throughout the country.
“Locating AREA48 in a vacant restaurant in the heart of downtown Tempe creates easy accessibility for all audiences,” McConnell said. “It allows us to connect ASU’s tremendously diverse students, faculty and staff with AREA48 participants, helping bridge the divide that often exists between a university and its local human and economic infrastructure. Not only does this help create diverse teams, it offers students a real-world experience that is very different from a typical internship or academic course.”