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Student teams earn funding to pursue innovative ideas


August 29, 2007

Fifteen ASU student-led ventures launched Aug. 23 as part of the third annual Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative selection process. Student teams competed for award money to explore their innovative ideas for business products and services or social good.

Submissions came from 78 teams cutting across ASU campuses and disciplines.

The initiative, made possible by a $5.4 million donation in October 2004 from Orin Edson to the ASU Foundation, supports student-led ventures at ASU. Annually, $200,000 is awarded, with awards including up to $20,000 in seed funding, office space at the initiative’s facility located at the Brickyard in downtown Tempe, and training and networking opportunities with ASU faculty, researchers and successful entrepreneurs.

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative will expand operations with a presence at the forthcoming SkySong, the ASU-Scottsdale Innovation Center that will become a force and focal point for excellence in technological innovation, cross-disciplinary collaborations and entrepreneurial ventures.

Team members of the 15 Edson ventures come from throughout the university, including the ASU Research Park, the W. P. Carey School of Business, the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, the School of Sustainability, the Katherine K. Herberger College of the Arts, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University College, the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of Applied Arts and Sciences, the College of Public Programs, the College of Design, the Department of Aeronautical Management and Technology, and Barrett, the Honors College.

The 15 Edson venture awardees for 2007 are:

• Arizona Community Loans – Leverages community partnerships to provide the under-funded with short-term loans, and the techniques for debt management and asset building necessary to thrive in our communities.

• Community SNAP of AZ – Dedicated to ending companion pet overpopulation in the state of Arizona by providing economically under-represented communities with access to low or no-cost spay and neuter services via a mobile surgical animal hospital, with the goal of ending euthanasia as a method of population control for companion animals.

• e-music instruction – Delivers live, interactive music instruction for students of all skill-levels via consumer webcam technology.

• Protector Personal Money Managers – Provides personal bookkeeping and bill-payment services for senior citizens, ensuring peace-of-mind for seniors and their families.

• Genie Accounting Suite – Online business and workflow management system that allows companies to manage and automate essential business processes, as well as access data from any wireless device.

• Green Dream – Develops a variety of sustainable products to help reduce solid waste pollution, starting with a biodegradable, compostable drinking straw.

• Green Cab Co. – Arizona’s first sustainable taxicab company, which operates a fleet of alternative fuel vehicles to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Invivoproteins – Develops novel human proteins for medicinal use.

• PURE – A natural, organic fast food eatery based on a sustainable model, serving a wide selection of healthy foods for people on the go. PURE aims to deepen the local economy by supporting local farmers.

• Sideline Star – Connecting the cheerleading and dance industry’s participants and vendors through an online social network, offering free memberships and paid subscription access to premium features.

• Sol Cover – Has designed and is patenting an innovative pool cover to increase the temperature of pool water and extend the swimming season.

• Interactive Language Learning – Provides global solutions to foreign language learners by using innovative, Web-based teaching tools.

• Thermcool Adsorption Systems – Researches and is developing a solar-powered, small-scale (less than 2 tons) air-conditioning system that will provide cooling for off-grid communities, mobile offices, single-family residences and military users.

• TUPO International – A nonprofit organization that uses untapped resources in the form of student and community volunteers to provide health care services for resource-limited communities, improving community health and economy, and developing leaders in public health.

• Watel Solutions Corp. – Developed and is commercializing an atmospheric water generator — a machine that efficiently extracts humidity out of the air to create clean, drinkable water.

Other statistics about the 15 Edson portfolio ventures:

• Women are on seven of the teams (women lead five of these ventures).

• Minorities are on four of the teams (minorities lead all four of these ventures).
In addition to the 15 newly awarded ventures, four teams from the 2006 Edson portfolio were granted second-year funds and space in the Edson facility.

The four Edson ventures awarded with continued funding and space are HydroHeadwear, Max Power Motors, Onto IP and Project Literacy.

“The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative was pleased with the strong pool of applicants for this year’s program, and is very excited about the quality of the student ventures selected for the 2007-2008 award year,” says Terree Parlett Wasley, director of ASU’s Entrepreneurial Initiatives. “We are thrilled with the diversity of the ventures and look forward to working with all of them throughout the coming year, providing coaching, mentoring and assistance to them.”

Teams of students started organizing after attending an Edson Initiative training session. Teams had to submit a brief proposal describing their business concept, marketing strategy and venture budget. Select ventures provided presentations to a panel of judges.

A panel of private-sector entrepreneurs and service providers, in addition to university administrators, judged the submissions based on business concept, marketing strategy, team qualifications, proposed budget, and potential for financial return or social impact. Edson, the program’s benefactor, participated in the selection process and reported that he was very pleased with the quality of this year’s student ventures.

For further information about the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, visit www.studentventures.asu.edu.