September 6, 2013
Arizona State University has announced that it will expand its support for student startup companies with the launch of the Great Little Companies (GLC) Network. The campus-based program, which will be managed by ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, will support up to 30 student startups each year that apply for, but are not accepted into the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative – ASU’s student startup accelerator, which supports the top 20 student startups each year. Each startup invited to participate in the network will receive $3,000 in grant funding, as well as direct mentoring through the Changemaker Central locations on each of ASU’s four campuses.
“The ASU Edson program has enabled considerable student entrepreneurship success over recent years and the launch of the GLC Network will significantly enhance our ability to support additional student startups across ASU,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president for ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “The widespread teaching of entrepreneurship, along with initiatives such as our Changemaker Central locations and ideation competitions like Innovation Challenge, have created a rich ecosystem for entrepreneurship to thrive within all corners of ASU.”
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The objective of the Great Little Companies Network is to expand support to student startups beyond those in the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative. The network provides a year’s worth of startup support services with the intent that at the end of that year, the participating companies will pursue funding from other ASU startup programs or launch into the Arizona startup ecosystem.
The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative began eight years ago with the goal of supporting students who were pursuing entrepreneurship while completing their degrees. 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 $1.4 million in seed-funding grants, as well as office space and mentorship to nearly 150 unique student ventures over the past eight years. This training and support has made it possible for more than 104 of these ventures to obtain an additional $3 million in external funding and in-kind services.
“Previously, the Edson program was only able to support approximately 20 startups each year,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU. “However, among our nearly 400 applicants each year, there are around 50 startups that demonstrate high potential for success. The GLC Network provides a way to offer those additional 30 startups the support they need to continue to pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors. The creation of the GLC will help ASU ensure that every student entrepreneur has a great experience launching a venture.”
The types of ventures supported by the Great Little Companies Network include traditional, for-profit companies, as well as more-than-profit organizations and social enterprises. The support available from the network includes:
• use of the collaboration spaces within ASU ChangeMaker Central locations
• training programs such as ASU’s “pracademic” (taught by practitioners) Rapid Startup School, as well as academic programs such as Semester to Launch and Make
• access to EIG’s network of more than 300 mentors
• funding for company setup costs, including legal fees, website development and branding
In addition to launching the Great Little Companies Network, ASU has increased the financial resources available to student startups in the Edson accelerator. Each Edson startup will have access to funds that can be used for patent, trademark and copyright costs, as well as to cover the costs of travel for customer development and competition purposes.
“ASU has done a remarkable job providing financial and mentor-led support to its elite student startups,” McConnell said. “The creation of the GLC Network will empower the university to increase its support to student startups at all stages of the entrepreneurship continuum. Whether they are just formalizing an idea into a company or are ready to ship, the GLC Network will provide a way for more student startups to find success.”
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, formerly known as ASU Venture Catalyst, is a joint initiative between the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the ASU Foundation for A New American University that supports the creation of faculty spinout companies at ASU.