Game changers, social innovators form latest ASU Edson start-up cohort


August 12, 2015

What will be the next big idea out of ASU?

Is it a portable tool that detects five copies of DNA in a given sample in under an hour; an app that holds users accountable to their goals; a nonprofit that aims to fight sex trafficking nationally; or a company that makes sustainable, low-cost building materials from recycled paper? students in ASU starup All Walks Project All Walks Project is a lean-launch nonprofit geared towards educating college students about domestic sex trafficking and training student volunteer mentors to administer trauma-informed mentorship on basic life skills to survivors of sex trafficking. All Walks is part of the 2015-2016 Edson program cohort. Photo by: All Walks Project Download Full Image

These are just four of the 21 student start-ups chosen to participate in Arizona State University’s prestigious Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.

Now entering its 11th year, the Edson program is a highly responsive, individualized and student-centered accelerator program that is focused on delivering economic, social and educational impact through the most advanced ASU student start-ups. Companies in the 2014-2015 Edson program cohort raised nearly $3 million in external funding, an indication that the investor community sees the potential in Edson start-ups.

“The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative is a vibrant and successful program at ASU. This is another demonstration of our commitment to student-driven innovation,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, senior vice president at ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development that comprises the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “We are excited to help our student-led start-ups with necessary resources that undoubtedly will result in significant local and global impact.”

The teams selected for the fall 2015 cohort will be awarded office space, mentoring, up to $20,000 in seed funding, and access to educational programs, such as the ASU Startup School — a proven framework for venture acceleration — to start and advance their venture.

“With previous support and guidance from mentors and advisers at the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at ASU SkySong, we have already been able to refine our business model and expand our venture incredibly quickly,” said Erin Schulte, co-founder of All Walks Project, a nonprofit focusing on anti-sex trafficking efforts that is part of this year’s Edson program cohort. “Being part of the Edson program will help us reach vulnerable populations all over the country and around the world in order to combat human trafficking within communities.”

To keep up with the pace of student innovation, applications for the program are now evaluated twice a year, with deadlines in October and April. Testament to the sense of community that comes with being part of the Edson program, many alums of the program remain engaged as peer mentors.

The 21 companies selected for the fall 2015 cohort are:

3DCycler

3dCycler LLC is a company focused on making 3-D printing more sustainable, affordable and accessible. 

Adaptive Designs

The team aims to develop an adapted e-reader that allows individuals with disabilities to access reading materials independently using a range of motions.

All Walks Project

All Walks Project is a lean-launch nonprofit geared towards educating college students about domestic sex trafficking and training student volunteer mentors to administer trauma-informed mentorship on basic life skills to survivors of sex trafficking.

AutoMateK

AutoMateK is an electronics distribution company focused on importing demanded electronics and distributing them in high-traffic areas throughout the United States, including on campuses. 

BeeSprout

BeeSprout is a platform for smartphones, tablets and the web that will provide interactive tools to users to plant and care for a garden. These tools will include interactive tutorials, a microcontroller sensor platform that monitors relevant garden metrics, and a system to alert a user’s phone when plants need to be watered or shielded from the winter cold.

BetR-blok

BetR-blok LLC (“better block”) is a green start-up company manufacturing sustainable, low-cost building materials made from recycled paper and other cellulosic materials.

Bot + BotScripts

Bot + BotScripts is a hardware and software robotic exploration system designed to create teaching tools and facilitate learning of 21st-century skills, rooted in the real-world experiences of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) education.

Curator Engine

Curator Engine provides customer access to artwork produced by ASU students, alumni and local community members. 

HEROES For Students

HEROES For Students is an online platform to connect and provide guest speakers for K-12 teachers who want a turnkey solution to expose their students to a diversity of careers, engage students in their academic content and empower students to set and reach ambitious goals.

Karma

Karma sells Karmalytics, its analytics software system, to restaurants that want to increase their operational efficiency through actionable data and insights.

Memora Health

Memora Health is a digital health company developing an intelligent messaging and analytics web platform that leverages mobile technology to engage patients in predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory health management.

Nutrition and Health Awareness

Nutrition and Health Awareness is a student organization that strives to reduce the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, specifically in children, by providing nutritional education services through school districts and after-school programs for any student who wants knowledge on how to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Pack Handles

Pack Handles is a product that will make carrying a backpack more comfortable and enjoyable. Project members say that adding a pair of handles will make it feel like 10 pounds came off your shoulders. 

Portable Bioanalytics

This project produces a portable, autonomous digital droplet polymerase-chain-reaction instrument able to run on batteries and detect as few as five copies of DNA in a given sample within an hour.

Sential

Sential is developing a tool called Resus CPR. It is a reliable, portable, easy-to-use and affordable chest-compression device that uses an innovative and semi-automated technology to manage sudden cardiac arrest — a life-threatening condition that claims 383,000 lives outside of hospitals every year.

Solarvane

Solarvane.com is a news, information and resource portal for the solar industry that aims to be the leading destination for industry insiders and consumers.

Studiocracy

Reddit meets Etsy for local art. We address the difficulty emerging artists have with getting their work noticed by letting them bypass the gallery system and interact directly with their community. Unlike other art retailers, we're a social network first and a marketplace second.

Tipt

Tipt is an app/website that helps hungry people find a great, local dining experience right when they need it. Unlike competitors such as Yelp or Foursquare that overwhelm with every possible option, Tipt presents the five best experiences based on more than 30 factors that would be key to decision making.

TwoWks.com

TwoWks is a mobile app/website that facilitates long-term accountability as well as robust progress visualization software for you to create actionable steps toward your goals while connecting you to a group of accountability partners who will re-energize you every two weeks.

UON Technologies

UON Technologies opens up transformative possibilities in underwater sensing and communications.  The Optical Modem Module (OMM) is a wireless underwater telecommunications device that allows for high-speed, low-power communication in a distributed underwater network.

Zinnect

Devils Connect is an online networking platform designed for Sun Devils to connect and collaborate with fellow classmates. Currently operating as DevilsConnect.com within ASU, the platform will expand into other universities nationwide as Zinnect.com once the model is perfected at ASU.

Iti Agnihotri

Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications, Learning Enterprise

479-236-9969

Recently launched ASU Center for Political Thought and Leadership gains momentum


August 12, 2015

“Read what Thomas Jefferson read.”

That’s the mission of a new center at Arizona State University: read, discuss and debate the key texts at the root of democracy. man speaking at podium ASU President Michael Crow speaks at the launch of the Center for Political Thought and Leadership. Download Full Image

ASU’s Center for Political Thought and Leadership takes students back to the ancient Greeks, forward through English philosophers, to the Founding Fathers and up to modern day thinkers.

According to director Donald Critchlow, the center will further civic education and the principles of political liberty and economic well-being.

“Civic education and the principles of liberty and economic well-being were found in other courses but not in a concentrated program like we have,” he said. “The students will read not only the ancient philosophers on democracy but Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, Hume, as well as the Founding Fathers — and Abraham Lincoln. The courses are geared towards debate among our students, so they’re learning not only the fundamentals of the foundations of democracy, but they’re learning also how to debate critics of democracy as well as proponents of democracy.”

The center was recently bolstered with a $1 million dollar commitment from Dan and Carleen Brophy. Carleen is an alum of Arizona State University but neither she or Dan had been involved with the university until they attended a breakfast last December and became acquainted with the center’s existence and mission. Since then they have been very involved, including joining the center’s Community Advisory Board.

“How can a nation, particularly a republic, survive if its citizens don’t know a thing about its history, about its roots?” Dan Brophy said. “People must understand their roots in order to exercise good self government.”

The Brophys, Arizona natives who say they’re not active in national politics but are interested in state government and legislation, were impressed by courses required in the foundations of democracy and political thought and leadership. Their hope is that the center will create educated citizens who can apply the roots of western civilization to contemporary issues.

“This content that’s not being taught at most universities in the country and certainly not being taught in high schools,” Carleen Brophy said.

The center’s certificate program is more than just a classroom experience. Students are introduced to what leadership means in business and public affairs via opportunities to meet and network with executives, attorneys, and public officials.

“In the required leadership course we bring in speakers on what leadership means and what they learned in their careers,” Critchlow said.

Past speakers have included former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, a former Arizona Assistant Attorney General, the mayor of Scottsdale and leaders from non-profit campaigns.

Kyl is now honorary chair of the center. He said the Brophy’s recent commitment shows public enthusiasm for the center’s mission.

“I’m excited that, in its first year, the center has been so successful in reaching out to ASU students and the community to foster discussion about the fundamental foundations of democracy and constitutional principles,” Kyl said. “ASU seeks to educate students who will be our state’s future leaders. The center is making an essential contribution to this mission; and, with support from individuals like the Brophys, this positive impact will continue.”

The center also offers an internship program where students can work on political campaigns and organizations like the League of Women Voters and the state Chamber of Commerce.

“The great Brophy commitment really reveals that we have strong community support,” Critchlow said. “Their gift means the center will be around for a long time and become rooted at ASU.”

The Brophys feel ASU is in the forefront of restoring the works of thinkers like William Bradford and St. Augustine to university curricula.

“We think it’s laudable and significant for ASU to have founded this center and supported it,” Dan Brophy said. “We think they are definitely in the lead on this nationally. There’s growing recognition with people who have had a good education that students today are missing exposure to basic elements of the American experience. Our hat’s off to Don and the center but also the administration for doing it.”

Scott Seckel

Reporter, ASU News