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ASU partners with Chandler on new model of startup incubator open to all

New ASU workspace, entrepreneurial program open to the community in Chandler.
August 24, 2023

Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator to provide advice, space, funding to entrepreneurs

Arizona State University has a new entrepreneurship resource in Chandler that is perfectly aligned with the university’s charter — open to anybody in the community.

A ribbon-cutting event on Wednesday celebrated the opening of the E+I@ACIC coworking space at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center and the start of the Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator, which will be based in the building.

The incubator program, a partnership between ASU’s J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute and the city of Chandler, is a unique model.

Typically, incubators require entrepreneurs to apply, and they may or may not be selected to join a cohort of other startups.

The Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator invites any entrepreneur in the community to join simply by registering. Then, they can collaborate with peers and get expert advice, according to Tracey Dodenhoff, the new vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU.

“It’s an integration of community and ASU assets,” she said of the coworking space and the incubator.

“No one will be turned away.”

Dodenhoff, who has experience in technology entrepreneurship, said that starting a business is not a linear process.

“You learn and you make mistakes. You learn from that and you try again and expand your network and you share with other people,” she said.

“That’s what this is all about. It’s that collective force multiplier effect. It could be somebody trying to come up with a new pizza formula or it could be somebody trying to solve a genetically driven disease.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton told the crowd that entrepreneurs are needed to innovative solutions to the big challenges facing the local community and the country.

“We need the people who are going to use this facility to help prepare ourselves for the issues of tomorrow,” he said at the ribbon cutting, which was organized by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.

“The people coming into this space have the power to make a real difference to our economy, our way of life and our futures.”

A new kind of incubator

Kristin Slice, director of community entrepreneurship for the Edson Institute, said she’s gotten a lot of feedback from founders about typical incubator programs, many of which require homework, provide irrelevant information or demand endless rounds of pitches.

The Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator will trust founders to do what’s right for their startup, she said.

“We’re going give you the tools every month to learn about innovation, the evidence-proven tools that many people have used to help build innovative, high-growth ventures in the past,” she said

“Then we're going to surround you with the resources that you need to master those skills — peers, mentors, resources in the community. You'll come to a monthly forum and visit us online and talk about, ‘How do these actually apply to my business?’”

Startup founders who register with Chandler Endeavor will be grouped into cohorts for collaboration and have a six-month timeline to help them stay on track.

The monthly forums, which will feature advice from successful entrepreneurs, are open to everybody. September’s event will teach participants how to take inventory of their ventures to understand next steps. Other forums will cover how to find customers and how to be aware of environmental issues.

The institute also is creating online modules to teach entrepreneurship concepts.

“We have launched a new custom portal that allows you to access these resources and to connect with each other on demand,” Slice said.

Besides the coworking space in the ASU Chandler Innovation Center, participants can get access to the building’s fabrication studio to create a prototype.

At the end of the six months, participants can join a pitch competition for funding.

Slice said she doesn’t know of another incubator program like Chandler Endeavor, which is funded with $275,000 from the city of Chandler.

“We are setting the standard for what it might look like out here,” she said.

“Standard incubators serve 10 to 15 people a year. I stood in front of the city council two months ago and told them we would serve over a thousand.”

Making connections

E+I@ACIC is one of five coworking spaces managed by the Edson Institute. The others are 850PBC and Fusion on First, both in downtown Phoenix, 1951@Skysong in Scottsdale and The Studios @ Mesa City Center in downtown Mesa. In addition, the Phoenix Forge makerspace in downtown Phoenix, in partnership with GateWay Community College, is open to the public.

ASU student Hope Anderson was one of the entrepreneurs chosen to cut the ribbon at the Chandler coworking space on Wednesday.

“I came to a networking event here and I got some good connections,” said Anderson, who is seeking a Master of Science degree in innovation and venture development, a transdisciplinary program that’s a partnership between the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Design School in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Her venture is Teaching Solved, an educational technology company focused on supporting teachers of world languages.

“Rather than being a language-learning app like Duolingo or Babbel, which is aimed directly at the student user, I’m aiming at the teachers because I want to support teachers in making their classes more effective for the students,” said Anderson, who also is a clinical assistant professor of Spanish at ASU.

She’s been to several events at different entrepreneurship ASU spaces.

“I know some of my classmates don’t even have internet at home, so they take advantage of on-campus resources or coworking spaces to access hardware, software or just internet connection,” she said.

“Whenever I visit these spaces, I see people working and it’s great because a lot of small businesses don’t have an office, so if they need to have meetings or need an area to cut out distractions, it’s so helpful.”

The first monthly forum of the Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator will be 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center, 249 E. Chicago St., Chandler.

Top image: A new coworking space that is available to the community has opened at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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ASU researchers model hurricane responses for more effective evacuations

August 24, 2023

Project simulates ways in which people might respond to emergency warnings

From the recent Maui fires to Hurricane Hilary, one thing is for certain: An evacuation plan is worth its weight in gold.

An Arizona State University research team has been modeling how people respond to hurricane and tropical storm warnings in an effort to create more effective evacuation messaging.

“In today’s digital world, there’s multiple channels of information (for) how people can stay out of harm’s way when a hurricane is approaching,” said Sean Bergin, an assistant research professor with the School of Complex Adaptive Systems in ASU’s College of Global Futures. “Evacuation isn’t just that you want people to leave. It’s about getting the right people to leave at the right time and making better informed decisions.”

Bergin, along with Michael Barton, a professor in the School of Complex Adaptive Systems and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, has been involved with Communicating Hazard Information in the Modern Environment, headquartered at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The project uses a computational agent-based model simulation to explore the ways in which people might respond to hurricane and other emergency warnings.

ASU spoke to Bergin and Barton as the 2023 hurricane season approaches its midway point.

Editor's note: Answers have been combined and edited for length and clarity.

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Sean Bergin

Question: Why are academics at ASU involved in hurricane modeling research?

Answer: This research is about how people respond to information about hurricanes — hurricane warnings for example — rather than how hurricanes, as physical systems, form. This is an example of complex interactions between social and natural systems, and ASU is one of the world's premier universities for social science research and of computer modeling of social systems.

Q: How did this project get started?

A: ASU became a partner with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado Boulder in a large NSF grant to study how people respond to hurricane warnings that are spread through multiple information channels, including digital and broadcast media, word of mouth and personal observation of the weather. ASU’s role in this project was to develop a computational agent-based model simulating this diverse information environment and the ways in which people might respond to warnings of different severity and timing. This model is a digital laboratory for testing alternative hurricane warning systems and their timing, the different configurations of the information network and different ways in which socioeconomic conditions can affect how well or how poorly people respond to emergency warnings. 

Q: How far along are you now, and how much do you have left?

A: (We) have developed and deployed a second-generation modeling environment. This environment is populated by computational agents that simulate the decisions and behaviors of individuals. The environment includes a variety of information providers, like a hurricane center, broadcast media (radio/television), digital media, local governments, an agent's neighbors and social network, and an agent's direct observation of weather conditions.

We can set this environment to match two areas of the U.S. most at risk of hurricanes — Florida and the Gulf Coast — and distribute agents geographically in each region according to the population densities.

Each agent has a unique risk sensitivity profile that determines how quickly and to what extent it decides to act in response to different warnings — ranging from doing nothing to evacuating. To set up a modeling experiment, we input to the model the sequence of warnings (at six-hour intervals) sent out by the National Hurricane Center and the hurricane path for past hurricanes.

We completed multiple series of experiments looking at the accuracy of hurricane forecasts, the effects of forecast errors introduced as they information is transmitted through the information network, the timing of evacuation orders, and the relative importance of forecasts, direct observation and evacuation orders in agent decision-making. We’ve published scientific papers and given professional presentations on these experiments. We’ve also begun new experiments on effects of setting agent risk profiles on the basis socioeconomic characteristics  — like age, wealth, children — drawn from census data instead of setting it randomly. We plan to publish these new analyses once they are complete.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with this work?

A: Predictions concerning a hurricane’s path and intensity have become increasingly more accurate over the past few decades. But the goal of this research isn’t to better predict a hurricane’s path; it is to find better ways to warn people about incoming hurricanes. We are hoping to better understand how people make decisions about weather hazards so that we can make recommendations about how to provide information.

Beyond this, the project has the potential to help us understand how people respond to warnings about other environmental hazards like severe land-based storms, floods and wildfires. As we've seen in this summer, these are becoming more frequent and more intense as a result of human-driven climate change. It is important that we are able to anticipate and plan for these events. It is equally important to be able to inform citizens in harm’s way effectively so that they can take appropriate action to prevent injury or death.

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Michael Barton

Q: What’s the biggest discovery you’ve made along the way?

A: Not everyone in the path of a storm has the same experience or resources. As part of this project’s exploration of people’s evacuation decisions, we incorporated census information into our modeled families to better model their behavior.

For instance, if your family doesn’t own a car, you are less likely to evacuate, or if your family has young children, you might be more likely to evacuate.

As we have tested these factors, we have found that including them may increase the accuracy of our model in some locations and could suggest that targeted hazard warnings will result in better decisions. As we continue to test these census-based factors we hope to better understand how to relay information and encourage better decisions.

Q: What is one of the most unexpected or challenging things about this research?

A: As we model the evacuation decisions of a state like Florida, there is not one right choice for all of the residents. Location plays an important role in making good decisions. If a storm were to hit the west coast of Florida, then people on the east coast do not need to evacuate, and if they were to evacuate, they would make it more difficult for others to evacuate. The timing of warning information, and especially evacuation orders, also plays an important role in evacuations. People can decide to evacuate too early and may evacuate unnecessarily. On the other hand, people can decide to evacuate too late and might be hit by a hurricane when they are leaving. So not only do people need to evaluate the hurricane’s severity, but they also need to make the right decision for their location at the right time.

Top photo courtesy iStock

Reporter , ASU News