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Expansion of ASU program creates new student entrepreneurship opportunities


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March 05, 2015

Arizona State University has expanded its Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator program to the U.S. Department of Defense. As another extension, ASU students will now have the opportunity to start businesses based on technologies from the San Diego-based Navy Department of Defense lab. 

The expansion of Furnace

ASU’s Furnace accelerator program forms, incubates and launches startups based on technologies developed in research labs that partner with the university. The program, which was first launched in Arizona, expanded to Rome, New York, in 2014 through a first-of-a-kind partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense.

This partnership provided ASU with a $1 million grant to establish three cohorts of startup companies utilizing the Department of Defense’s intellectual property at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York; the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, California; and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts. ASU professors serving as principal investigators on the Department of Defense grant include Werner Dahm, Glenn Hoetker and Mitzi Montoya.

Since launching in 2014, ASU has supported the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the lab in Rome, New York. This work includes identifying local economic development partners and investors, and assisting with startup team and technology matching.

On Feb. 21, an ASU-sponsored launch event in New York showcased the new companies.  

“We saw community members, economic development partners and investors come together in New York to mark the start of an intensive six-month accelerator experience,” said Jeff Abbott, ASU’s program manager for the Furnace Program. “This indicates great community involvement of the eight startup companies that were selected through a competitive application process.”

Over the next six months, ASU will support the development of the startups through a partnership with early-stage venture capital firm, Wasabi Ventures. The program will provide each startup up to $25,000 in seed funding, which will be disbursed to teams as they achieve important acceleration milestones. Teams will also receive office space and entrepreneurship mentorship.

Furnace opportunities for ASU entrepreneurs

ASU entrepreneurs are invited to participate in the next round of startup formation based on San Diego Navy lab technologies. 

“As we reviewed the great progress in venture creation in New York, it became clear that we could offer our students the opportunity to form teams around these technologies and empower them to start ventures right here in Arizona,” said Garret Westlake, associate dean of student entrepreneurship at ASU. “Giving our students access to existing technology and intellectual property available in the Furnace program may prompt creative ideas and engage more of our students and faculty in entrepreneurial endeavors. It will be exciting to see what the ASU community can do to commercialize Department of Defense technology and grow the Arizona economy.”

How it will work

Students and faculty are invited to preview the available San Diego technologies at furnaceaccelerator.com.

The W. P. Carey School of Business and the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation will host a Co-founder Mixer and Lean Launch info Session from 5:30 to 7 p.m., March 26 to answer questions and help interested individuals form teams around select technologies. RSVPs are strongly encouraged.

Teams are invited to attend an open pitch competition that will be held on the ASU Polytechnic Campus Launch Day on April 8.

Winning teams will be offered an all-expense-paid trip to San Diego to meet the inventors and visit the San Diego Navy lab. Winners will be accepted into the Furnace accelerator program with Wasabi Ventures, which includes office space, mentoring and a dedicated venture manager at SkySong to assist students in scaling their ventures.

Please contact tracy.lea@asu.edu in the ASU Office of Entrepreneurship + Innovation if you have any questions about the technologies and the application process. 

ASU’s Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator program is an innovative startup accelerator designed to form, incubate and launch new companies by helping them license technology and intellectual property from a participating research institution. Information regarding the program is available here.

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