ASU launches startup competition to find next generation of student entrepreneurs

Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative logo

Aspiring student entrepreneurs at Arizona State University are invited to apply for the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative to get funding and other support for their ventures.  

Now entering its 10th year, the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative is the university’s premier student startup competition. Managed by ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, part of the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, the initiative is one of the largest privately funded business plan competitions at a U.S. university. Its aim is to give ASU’s student entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas and launch viable startup companies.

Made possible by an investment from the J. Orin Edson Foundation to the ASU Foundation for A New American University, the Edson program has provided approximately $1.6 million in seed-funding grants, as well as office space and mentorship to student ventures over the past nine years. In the 2013 Edson competition, 355 teams representing more than 2,000 students across the university submitted proposals, the fourth year in a row the university saw an increase in applications.

Each year the competition’s top 20 student ventures are selected to receive funding, office space, training and mentorship over a 10-month period. This year, an additional 30 student startups will receive funding and mentorship through the Great Little Companies Network, a campus-based program housed at the Changemaker Central locations on each of ASU’s four campuses. In total, $400,000 in direct funding is available for up to 50 student ventures, with all of the funding coming from private sources.

In addition, ASU colleges and schools will compete to be recognized as ASU’s “most entrepreneurial college or school” in the second annual Startup Bowl. The college or school that generates the highest percentage of Edson proposals per capita will be honored as the winner of the Startup Bowl. The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering took home the inaugural Startup Bowl trophy in 2013.

“ASU has an incredible track record of supporting early-stage student entrepreneurs who want to launch startups in areas ranging from manufacturing to high-tech to social enterprise and more,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. “We have a significant mentor pool through ASU SkySong that helps these teams turn their ideas into real companies that have a real impact on the world.”

The Edson competition is open to all ASU students, including undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and part-time students enrolled in any ASU program. At least one member of the team must be an ASU student at the time the team’s proposal is submitted. Individual students may submit more than one proposal; multiple submissions will not decrease the likelihood of being selected for funding. Additionally, all ASU students, including Barrett Honors College students, are encouraged to adapt their problem-solving term papers or honors theses into Edson proposals.  

Each team must complete the competition’s online application by 5 p.m., April 1. The application process is simple and quick, and students needing help with their applications are invited to attend application workshops and Entrepreneur Office Hours on all four ASU campuses throughout the months of February and March.

For more information, visit the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative website or Facebook page.