Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative builds on success

On the heels of a year full of big wins and national accolades, the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative launched a campaign to increase awareness of entrepreneurship within the student body at Arizona State University – and it worked. Applications to the Edson program totaled 338, a 35 percent increase from the 250 applications received in 2011.

“2011 was the best year to date for ASU’s Edson Program,” said Brent Sebold, venture manager for Edson. “Several of our student-run companies have won national entrepreneurship awards, placed in the top of international competitions and are generating significant revenues! We wanted to build on that success for the 2012 cohort, so we launched a campaign to widely increase student knowledge of, and interest in applying to, Edson. We couldn’t be more pleased with the result.”

The Edson accelerator offers student teams up to $20,000 in seed funding, office space, mentorship and training to accelerate their venture concepts. More than $1.4 million has been awarded to student teams during the previous six years of the program and more than $200,000 will be granted to the student teams chosen this year. The program is one of the largest privately funded business plan competitions at a U.S. university. The Edson program is run by the ASU Venture Catalyst and is based in ASU SkySong.

Accolades for the 2011 Edson Accelerator Cohort include; first place winner and a total of three finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “College Entrepreneur of the Year” competition, second place winner in the “Idea to Product” global competition held in Sweden, and two finalists in the “Startup Open,” a global competition that recognizes the top 50 new ventures launched in 2011.

“Our student entrepreneurs are making a splash in the global scene,” said Gordon McConnell, executive director of ASU’s Venture Catalyst. “The 2011 cohort has generated such a positive buzz around student entrepreneurship that students from all ASU campuses and programs want to be involved. We are very encouraged by the increase in our applicant numbers and the quality of applications received.”

The winners of Edson funding will be announced in June 2012. Once accepted into the program, each venture will received office space, intensive and industry-specific mentorship and a number of educational opportunities all designed to enable students to advance their ventures.

The Edson Program is a flagship program of ASU Venture Catalyst, the ASU unit that works with high-potential startup companies, both inside and outside the university.