ASU startup program to target military, veterans, defense entrepreneurs

men in military uniforms walking along line of flags on campus

Arizona State University’s Venture Catalyst has announced that a special version of its successful Rapid Startup School program will be launched in September that will target military and defense industry professionals, along with members of the U.S. veterans community.

The new Military/Defense/Veterans (MDV) program will be a free, pracademic program, run in the evenings at ASU SkySong. The program is designed to help participants to launch new startup companies in areas such as military technology, homeland security, border protection and consumer protection processes. It is expected, however, that other non-military startups may also be created. This is part of a concerted effort to target these core groups over the winter months.

“Arizona has a long and proud history with the military, with a large veteran population from many different wars, along with a growing corporate defense and aerospace industry,” said Gordon McConnell, assistant vice president of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration. “The experience, resources, and know-how to create a new generation of startups are here; we are just helping to connect the dots.”

The Rapid Startup School MDV will last for two months with approximately two evening classes each week. At the conclusion of the program, ASU Venture Catalyst will launch a new monthly networking event called “Military Mondays,” which will occur on the first Monday of each month. This will be a networking event for participants of the Rapid Startup School as well as members of the growing startup and military scenes in the greater Phoenix area.

“Military Mondays will help to bring like-minded people together: founders with potential co-founders, startups with corporates, entrepreneurs with service providers,” said Wiley Larsen, the ASU Venture Manager in charge of the new MDV program. “We want to ensure the momentum continues, and we are interested in partnering with other organizations that can help promote this new technology cluster. Two of this year’s student startup teams, who are being funded and incubated through the ASU Edson Initiative, are also in military-related fields.”

ASU also recently announced AZ Furnace, another startup initiative that would be of interest to people with a military or defense background. AZ Furnace is a startup accelerator that allows access to intellectual property from a number of sources, including Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the Dignity Health group. AZ Furnace will offer high-potential startup ventures a package worth more than $50,000 in cash and services. 

The package includes at least a $25,000 seed funding grant and 6 months of incubation space in either the ASU SkySong facility or at NAU’s partner incubator, the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.  Furnace is an intensive, 6-month, mentor-led accelerator program, and includes several additional support services. Companies that are accepted into AZ Furnace must be based in Arizona as a stimulant to regional economic development and job creation. This nationwide competition is expected to be open at the end of August until at least mid-September.

AZ Furnace is aimed at individuals who want to start companies based on technologies developed at Arizona research institutions. It was developed by ASU Venture Catalyst, which is the ASU unit that works with high-potential startup companies from 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, the research arm of ASU.

“Arizona has the potential to create the next generation of great military and security technology companies by leveraging all the assets that this state has to offer,” said McConnell. “The startup initiatives that ASU Venture Catalyst will launch over the next six months are designed to pull the people, business and technology resources together to make that vision a reality.”