Question: The force of entrepreneurship is strong in the Valley. We hear a lot about start-ups, but what are we doing to help our entrepreneurs sustain success?
Entrepreneurial energy is strong in Arizona. BioAccel, a nonprofit organization focused on economic development in healthcare, is dedicated to creating sustainable new ventures. Entrepreneurs entering the medical device industry need commercialization guidance while investors need qualified deals to feel confident about investing. BioAccel bridges that gap by providing early stage feedback, guidance, rigorous diligence, investment up to $300,000 and partners that create value to attract downstream investor participation.
BioAccel creates relationships with entrepreneurs that are aligned with their success. Our equity-based investments, rent subsidy and intimate industry-specific mentorships provide the education and support needed for success. We have recently launched a new signature program called the BioAccel Solutions Challenge, which encourages entrepreneurs to create solutions to our researched healthcare needs. Successful winners will receive $100,000 on their new venture, thus creating a strong foundation to build. This program is perfectly aligned with our mission and the sustainable success of entrepreneurs in this industry; it not only channels entrepreneurial spirit, but it also provides an avenue for new investors to feel comfortable in this industry.
MaryAnn Guerra is chairman of the board, CEO and co-founder of BioAccel™. She is well-known for creating novel programs to accelerate the transfer of technology from the lab into useful products and new business opportunities. Guerra has numerous awards for her work, including the 2012 State Science and Technology Institutes’ award for Most Promising Initiative. She has served on numerous boards and is currently a member of the Flinn Bioscience Steering Committee.
Arizona definitely has an emerging start-up scene. The ecosystem to fully support commercialization of it is still a bit nascent, but a number of incubators and accelerators have formed and started collaborating under the Arizona Business Incubator Association (AZIBA). Collaborative workspaces and co-working facilities are popping up throughout the state, allowing entrepreneurs to have the density and support necessary for good ideas to be brought to market. The Arizona Technology Council and others have been pushing for legislation to help capital formation happen and encourage more venture capital to be available for the system. The Arizona
Commerce Authority has one of the most aggressive grant programs in its innovation challenge. The University systems have been hard at work providing paths for their students and researchers to bring product to market. Local companies like Infusionsoft and Go Daddy have received significant capital investment and are looking to move toward an initial public offering and showing it is possible to launch and grow here in Arizona. It is a good time to be an entrepreneur in Arizona.
Derek Neighbors is a serial entrepreneur who helps people bring ideas to reality. Neighbors co-founded Gangplank, a collaborative workspace, to help encourage local creatives to explore innovative ideas and create what they are passionate about. He is a partner at Integrum Technologies, a consulting services firm that helps companies build high-performing teams to compete in the new economy.
Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation
Quite simply, we must stay relevant to the start-ups we support. Phoenix has really emerged as an entrepreneurial hot spot, and there is an exciting youth movement right now with some incredibly bright, forward-thinking entrepreneurial leaders, such as Jenny Poon (Co+Hoots), Kyle McIntosh (MAC6), Courtney Klein and Chris Petroff (Seed Spot), and the list goes on. Couple that with a tremendous infrastructure of technologically advanced incubators, accelerators, co-work spaces, etc., and local start-ups have a strong support network to grow their business.
And there is also a new era of accountability; incubators are not only challenging outdated models and methods but they are also challenging the entrepreneurs to be better leaders of their business. Speaking strictly from our perspective here at CEI, we hold our clients to a high standard, with monthly and quarterly benchmark reviews to ensure their commitment to gaining traction during their tenure in our program. By pushing them to be better, we position them for long-term growth and success.
Jeff Saville is the executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, an energetic business incubator supporting bioscience, software and technology start-ups. Prior to assuming his role at CEI, Saville was the vice president of NACET, a Flagstaff incubator. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communications from Northern Arizona University and is also an entrepreneur in his own right, having started and sold multiple businesses.
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