INNOVATION & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Startup Tucson is working to grow a strong, vibrant ecosystem of diverse entrepreneurs, companies and talent in Tucson. As a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurship in Southern Arizona, the non-profit spurs economic growth by providing trainings, technical-assistance, mentoring as well as networking events in it’s downtown Tucson location. The non-profit also has a number of special initiatives designed to support specific industries and entrepreneurs in the community, including a Launch Lab featuring prototyping and media equipment.
University of Arizona Center for Innovation
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) is a leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and has long served the region’s strong and vibrant community of innovators. As a startup incubator network with locations across the Southern Arizona region, UACI supports science and technology companies at any stage of development coming from the University of Arizona, the general Tucson community, and internationally. This is done through providing access to people, programming and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. Startups go through a 27-point structured roadmap that takes them through a continuum of education. UACI is a certified International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Soft-Landing destination. Businesses seeking international expansion can directly locate to Southern Arizona knowing that UACI will provide the necessary resources and programming needed for new market entry in the US.
University of Arizona Ecosystem
The University of Arizona supports innovation within Southern Arizona through a number of entities and programs within the community. The University of Arizona Center for Innovation fosters technology start-ups, emerging and mature companies develop their ideas, inventions and next evolution of product. Tech Launch Arizona ensures that technologies and innovations originating with UArizona researchers find meaningful application through patenting intellectual property and commercialization. Arizona FORGE provides early-stage student entrepreneurs with an accelerated education about general startup venture concepts and the tools needed to initiate a startup.
TENWEST Impact Festival is a dynamic, multi-day festival bringing together a wide range of people and interests to share perspectives and create innovative solutions. Culture-makers, technologists, professionals, & community builders alike assemble over ten days of exhibitions, talks, and interactive experiences to inspire the ideas and facilitate the connections that will empower Tucson. The long term goal of the TENWEST festival is to share the diverse attributes of Tucson to attract and retain talent in Southern Arizona and to be identified with Tucson and Southern Arizona internationally.
A user-friendly guide to the organizations and groups that support the growth of small businesses and startups in Tucson, the Ecosystem Guide includes over 80 listings. Users can browse by category to learn more about resources within Southern Arizona. Connect Tucson, by the City of Tucson, also provides a guide to doing business in Tucson.
Venture Capital and Angel Investment
The Tucson region offers multiple types of capital resources for startups seeking funding. Desert Angels is a Tucson-based nonprofit organization of accredited Angel investors who seek opportunities to invest in regional start-up or early-stage no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech companies. Private local venture capitalists like UA Venture Capital and BlueStone Venture Partners provide venture capital for companies that have a product or service in testing or pilot production and also serve as the primary source of capital once the venture matures into a viable business.
Additional Capital and Business Financing
Challenges and Pitch Competitions
Southern Arizona and Arizona at large have several longstanding challenge and pitch competitions a year that give entrepreneurs and startups the opportunity to compete for funding and support. IdeaFunding has been a signature event in Southern Arizona for 25 years. Each year the event hosts hundreds of entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors. Hosted by Startup Tucson, the event features thought leadership in innovation as well as a pitch competition that gives thousands of dollars of non-dilutive funds for early-stage companies. The Arizona Innovation Challenge is Arizona’s leading business plan competition — one of the largest in the country — and is designed to advance innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in Arizona by helping early-stage ventures scale. Venture Madness Venture Madness, presented by Invest Southwest in partnership with the ACA, pits the most promising startups and emerging growth companies in a head-to-head competition each year.