he University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) announced that more than 40 startups, a record number, are enrolled in the incubation program. Passionate entrepreneurs from across the nation have flocked to UACI. Each one of the 40+ tech and science-based startups are developing solutions for real-world problems and have a strong desire to make a significant difference in the local and global communities through innovation.
Businesses are working on everything from curing cancer to developing an app to help correct posture. The reasons why startups have teamed up with UACI are as diverse as the businesses themselves.
TheraCea Pharma is a biotech startup and one of UACI’s newest companies that recently competed for and won a sponsored year in the incubator. “UACI provides fabulous support to startup companies by connecting them to the resources of the University of Arizona and the Tucson Community. TheraCea team is very excited to be able to use the laboratory and office space to advance their technical work, business mentorship and commercialization programs to move the company to the market,” shared Iman Daryaei, Chief Executive Officer, TheraCea Pharma.
“Both the University of Arizona Center for Innovation and UA Tech Park have assisted in moving our company forward by providing access to experts in the field, including mentors and business experts that have helped us understand how to overcome obstacles as entrepreneurs and to be able to push our ideas and innovations forward into the marketplace, stated” Courtney Williams, CEO & Co-founder of Emagine Solutions Technology.
“As a startup, having access to all that the University of Arizona has to offer gives us a better springboard to our future success. We greatly appreciate the help and dedication to our success that we have received from the entire team at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation,” expressed Emil Tremblay, CEO & Co-founder of SGNT.
This milestone could not have been reached without the strategic measures put in place to grow the innovation capacity at The University of Arizona utilizing UACI as one of the main mechanisms.
“UACI has long served the region’s strong and vibrant community of entrepreneurs and innovators and our number of startups is a testament to the validity of the program, the evolution of a maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem and the elevated sophistication of the startups,” shared Carol Stewart, associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona.
Startups enrolled in the program come from the University of Arizona, the general community, and internationally. The UACI recently received the prestigious Soft-Landing designation from the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). International companies receive best practice accommodations from UACI and are ensured a “soft-landing” to this country. In addition to the prominent designation, the Sherbrooke – Rennes – Arizona Entrepreneurial Triangle was launched establishing a collaboration to foster growth for innovative companies in France, Canada and the United States, using these regions as a superhighway for successful international market entry. The U.S. Department of State also teamed up with UACI to support international entrepreneurs with their Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative. UACI was one of only seven selected sites nationwide.
UACI has expanded regionally to bring programming to the Southern Arizona region, teaming up with municipal and business partners to provide location-based support. Outposts in Vail, Sahuarita and Oro Valley have been established. Most recently, the University of Arizona Center for Innovation at Oro Valley – an incubator focused on supporting bioscience startups – opened its doors on December 3, 2020. The center features offices, meeting space and a shared lab including access to equipment critical to the success of biotech startups. Expanding the incubator regionally has filled a critical gap and is pivotal in extending the reach of the University of Arizona’s work advancing innovation far beyond our campus to benefit society at large.
Beyond expanding offerings, UACI has teamed with key organizations. For example, UACI partnered with several community champions to bring a sponsored year of incubation programming, space and cash prizes to innovators so that they have the necessary resources to grow their business. UACI Sponsored Launch program has been widely successful with six winning startups currently enrolled in the program. UACI also works with renewable energy startups across the nation as a designated Power Connector through the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to fast track the creation and manufacturing of American-Made solar technologies.
Startups are emersed with support centered around a 27-point roadmap. The program helps them to translate innovations into marketable technologies, develop a business plan, identify target markets, refine their prototype, prepare pitch presentations, secure investment, successfully launch into the market and much more. UACI expanded their team to include four subject matter experts that serve the increasing number of startups. These subject matter experts assist the UACI startups in taking action toward four critical functional aspects (marketing strategy, accounting and financing, team and board development and federal awards). UACI also provides dedicated space for startups where they can work alongside other entrepreneurs in a fast-paced environment where emerging companies and technology giants work side by side. The flexible workspace includes a variety of office and meeting spaces, wet and dry labs, shared lab equipment, and a prototyping center which provides the perfect platform for startups to scale rapidly and adjust based on business demands.
“We have seen a large influx of startup teams who have a deep desire to make a significant difference in the local and global community through innovation. It is extremely rewarding to help them along their path. No matter what stage, our program is designed to meet them at their need,” shared Eric Smith, executive director of UACI.