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Innovative start-ups from Mexico find home at SkySong

October 13, 2008

Arizona State University has signed a major deal to bring a technology business accelerator (TechBA) for Mexico's most innovative start-ups to SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

SkySong will work in partnership with the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science and the Ministry of the Economy of Mexico to operate TechBA Arizona.

The joint venture will bring representatives of knowledge-based Mexican businesses to Arizona and provide them with office space and support for accelerating their businesses in the U.S. or international markets.

Additionally, TechBA Arizona will work with companies based in Mexico that are preparing for expansion, but are not yet ready to open a U.S. office. These "pre-acceleration" companies receive training and support via seminars and consultations in both Mexico and the United States.

"Mexico is Arizona's largest trading partner, and TechBA provides a new mechanism to create mutually beneficial economic linkages," ASU President Michael Crow says.

The Arizona accelerator is the sixth TechBA program worldwide. Others are located in Austin, Texas; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Detroit, Mich., Montreal, Canada; and Madrid, Spain.

A focus of TechBA is to promote and support entrepreneurship to top-tier Mexican start-ups. In recent years ASU has built its entrepreneurial portfolio into one of the largest and most diverse in the U.S. and SkySong is the focus point of the university's entrepreneurial activities.

According to Julia Rosen, ASU associate vice president for innovation and entrepreneurship, SkySong is already working with more than 40 companies from 11 countries, and TechBA will provide an opportunity to create a sustained focus on Mexican knowledge-based enterprises.

"At SkySong, these Mexican businesses will gain access not only to the SkySong companies, they will also gain access to ASU's deep relationships with universities and incubators across the world," says Rosen. "In Europe, for example, ASU has a strategic partnership with Dublin City University. We also work with universities and business accelerators in Singapore and Turkey."

ASU SkySong staff and their partners will participate in the company selection process in Mexico this fall.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Department of Commerce, Arizona-Mexico Commission and several other organizations played key roles in attracting TechBA to SkySong by conveying the benefits of Greater Phoenix and access to research and technology at ASU.

According to Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) says, "SkySong continues to make great strides in elevating the profile of Greater Phoenix and Arizona as a hub for global innovation."

Marco A. López Jr., director of the Arizona Department of Commerce, said that "as Arizona continues its efforts to increase foreign direct investment, SkySong is an important global landing platform that provides a new way for Mexican and other global entrepreneurs to access the US market.

Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council (ATC) says TechBA Arizona also provides a unique opportunity for the state's technology-based companies.

"Innovation occurs globally," Zylstra says. "Council members will benefit from access to up-and-coming innovation from a neighboring country that is 109 million people strong."

Harry Garewal, president and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is excited about the opportunities TechBA presents to the Greater Phoenix community.

"We look forward to creating new, value-added, cross-border relationships to promote economic prosperity," he says. "We hope that this will lead to more and better jobs as well as procurement opportunities for companies on both sides of the border."

This most recent partnership builds on ASU's rapidly developing relationship with Mexico's knowledge-based enterprises. ASU has a long-standing strategic alliance with Tecnológico de Monterrey. This summer Arizona Technology Enterprises (AzTE), the technology venturing arm of Arizona State University that is located at SkySong, entered into an agreement to market technologies in the U.S. that are developed by Tecnológico de Monterrey.

SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, is currently home to more than 40 enterprises from 11 countries, with clusters of companies in e-learning, information communications technologies, and sustainability. SkySong is an interactive business environment in which individual entrepreneurs, global and US enterprises, ASU researchers, and community members connect to bring new services and technologies to the marketplace. Located at the intersection of Scottsdale and McDowell Road, two buildings totaling 300,000 SF are currently open.

SkySong will ultimately consist of 1.2 million SF of research, office and retail space in addition to residential units. Higgins Development Partners and Plaza Companies are co-developers of the project in partnership with Arizona State University Foundation and USAA Real Estate Company.