Dignity Health joins ASU entrepreneurial development program

ASU’s Venture Catalyst has announced that Dignity Health Arizona, the parent organization of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, has become the first partner in a new entrepreneurial development program called AZ Furnace.

This partnership will open the vault of Dignity Health Arizona technologies and research discoveries to entrepreneurs with the intent that these technologies will form the basis for new high-potential startups. AZ Furnace will offer high-potential startup ventures a package worth more than $50,000 in cash and services. The package includes $25,000 in seed funding, incubation space in the ASU SkySong facility, an intensive six-month mentor-led accelerator program, and several additional support services.

AZ Furnace is a startup accelerator which is aimed at individuals starting companies based on available intellectual property developed at Arizona research institutions. It was developed by ASU Venture Catalyst, which is the ASU unit that works with high-potential startups, both inside and outside the university. The ASU Venture Catalyst and ASU SkySong are both strategic units of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development.

“Dignity Health is not just a system of hospitals; in Arizona, it also has a robust clinical and basic research program that is consistently turning out new discoveries,” says Manoja Lecamwasam, director of Intellectual Property for Dignity Health. “Just like ASU’s research discoveries, our intellectual property can be commercialized for societal benefit and to drive local economic development. Dignity Health Arizona is proud to be the first partner to join this unique accelerator and announce our full support of using our research discoveries to fuel economic growth and job creation in Arizona.”

This unique program will involve a nationwide competition to select and fund new ventures that are based on one or more patents or technologies developed at research institutions in Arizona. Companies that are accepted into AZ Furnace must be based in Arizona as a stimulant to regional economic development and job creation.

Dignity Health is the fifth-largest health system in the country with more than 10,000 physicians and 55,000 employees across Arizona, California and Nevada. They also have a network of more than 150 ancillary care sites and 40 acute care hospitals. Dignity Health hospitals in Arizona include St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Barrow Neurological Institute, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and Chandler Regional Medical Center.

Technologies from Dignity Health will be listed alongside the intellectual properties available through Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the Technology Transfer Office of ASU. This will increase the number of cutting-edge intellectual properties available for entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on research discoveries to create viable businesses. 

“High-value technologies provide no benefit to society if they remain in research laboratories across the country,” said Charlie Lewis, vice president of venture development for AzTE. “ASU Venture Catalyst, AzTE and Dignity Health are taking a proactive step to ensure that Arizona’s most valuable technologies are given all the assistance they need to realize their full potential. We are excited to be partnering with Dignity Health on the Furnace Accelerator and anticipate some very promising companies being launched as a result.”

The competition, open to anyone in the world, officially will launch in the second quarter of 2012. The participants invited into Furnace must incubate their new companies in the co-working space available to them at ASU SkySong, which is based in Scottsdale, a few minutes’ drive from the main airport.