ASU Venture Catalyst startups raise more than $1M


January 7, 2013

ASU Venture Catalyst, the startup unit of Arizona State University, has announced that the startups within their accelerator programs have raised more than $1 million in the last 12 months.

The main beneficiaries of the funding have been companies within ASU’s student startup accelerator, the Edson Entrepreneurship Initiative. The new startups in this program have raised approximately $800,000 during the last year from federal grants, U.S. and international competitions, and external seed funding from angel investors. Download Full Image

However, it isn’t just ASU’s student companies that have successfully acquired external funding. Early stage startups in the Venture Catalyst’s external accelerator – those companies that are not student-led or faculty spinouts – have  been successful in raising $250,000 in venture funding in 2012.

“It has been a great year for the early-stage ventures based in ASU SkySong,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation for the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU. “Raising early-stage funding, from sources as diverse as angel investors and federal grants, is vital to the survival rate of startup companies. As we continue to build on the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to 2013, we are confident that we will see even more successes from our startups.”

Poised to potentially add to next year’s funding are the 10 new companies that will be joining the AZ Furnace Accelerator in January 2013. The AZ Furnace Accelerator is a groundbreaking initiative that encourages entrepreneurs from across the country to find and commercialize innovations developed within Arizona’s universities and private research institutions. The 10 winning companies utilized innovations from Arizona State University, Dignity Health Arizona, and the University of Arizona. They represent a wide array of technologies and innovative solutions, from biomarkers for disease diagnosis to new methods for massive data storage to repurposing discarded tires for new concrete and construction materials.

Each Furnace company will receive $25,000 in seed funding from the Arizona Commerce Authority and BioAccel, as well as six months of incubation in innovation spaces throughout Arizona. This grant funding will occur in January when the new startups officially begin the Furnace Acceleration process. The acceleration period will culminate in an investor demo day where all 10 companies will have the opportunity to pitch to a room of investors to secure additional venture funding.

W. P. Carey School to launch new major in entrepreneurship


January 7, 2013

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own business – about turning your passion into a moneymaking company – then entrepreneurship may be for you. The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University announces a new major in business entrepreneurship that can offer access to incredible resources and the knowledge to help you succeed. The new degree will be offered for the Fall 2013 semester.

“The W. P. Carey School has been delivering entrepreneurship coursework for almost 30 years, and ASU has a wide variety of resources for budding entrepreneurs,” says Robert Mittelstaedt, W. P. Carey School of Business dean. “However, until now, we’ve only formally offered a concentration and certificates in entrepreneurship. Starting this fall, we want to give our entrepreneurs a full major, so their degrees and resumes reflect the intense training and preparation they’ve received. This can help when presenting themselves to potential backers, partners or even employers at existing companies looking for true innovators.” Sidnee Peck Download Full Image

The recent uncertainty in the economy has produced a keen interest in entrepreneurship, as many people try to create their own jobs and business opportunities. As a result, the number of entrepreneurship programs at universities across the country is booming.

“Entrepreneurship students can look forward to potentially connecting with mentors, peers, possible investors and top faculty members who understand how to start and maintain a business,” says Sidnee Peck, director of entrepreneurial initiatives at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “They also get great feedback from industry experts, and they have the ability to try and fail in a safe environment, instead of risking real money in the real world.”

The W. P. Carey School already has a tremendous record of producing great student entrepreneurs. Over just the past few years, the school has had a Forbes magazine “All Star Student Entrepreneur” and two finalists for Entrepreneur magazine’s annual “College Entrepreneur” award. The school has also had many winners of ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative, which provides funding, mentorship and office space to teams of students and helps them develop their ideas into viable businesses. In the last academic year alone (2011-12), W. P. Carey School students won more than $130,000 in new-venture competitions.

In 2011, Peck was invited to speak at a White House event about the benefits of teaching entrepreneurship to college students. Her entrepreneurship classes at the W. P. Carey School include some groundbreaking new coursework in Lean LaunchPad, an experience-oriented concept introduced in Silicon Valley. Several of her students have successfully launched businesses.

“Our major in entrepreneurship helps you acquire the educational foundation, experiences and network to negotiate obstacles and be successful,” says professor Gerry Keim, chair of the W. P. Carey School’s Management Department, where the new major is housed. “This country has always encouraged the risk-taking needed to be an entrepreneur. In our program, students can learn whether something is feasible, whether an idea is a good fit for the marketplace, how to get capital, and other key skills, so they only spend time developing business concepts that create value.”

ASU also boasts many other opportunities to help students get their firms off the ground, including:

• Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), a sequence of classes at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering that joins students of various majors to help solve real-world problems.

• Student Teams for Entrepreneurship Projects (STEP), a program from the W. P. Carey School of Business Spirit of Enterprise Center that matches teams of business students with Valley companies to solve existing problems.

• CTI Maker Week through the College of Technology and Innovation, where students can pitch ideas, make devices and launch them.

• InnovationSpace – a joint program between the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the W. P. Carey School of Business – that teaches students how to develop products that create market value, while serving social needs and minimizing impacts on the environment.

• ASU’s SkySong, which offers the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative and other funding competitions, among many other services for entrepreneurs.

The new entrepreneurship degree will officially be available starting in fall 2013, but applications are already being accepted. Two other new bachelor’s degrees will also be offered at the W. P. Carey School this fall: Bachelor of Arts in Business with concentrations in human resources or sports & media studies. A new concentration is also being introduced in digital and integrated marketing communication.

Visit www.wpcarey.asu.edu for more information on the school’s stellar undergraduate program, ranked top 25 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.