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AZ Tech Beat | December 15, 2019

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Gordon McConnell steps down from ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group

Gordon McConnell steps down from ASU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group
Tishin Donkersley

While the startups of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG) at ASU are seeking their lucky charm and a bit of green to fund their companies, there will a void in the program as we lose one of our favorite Irishman that brought good luck and good times to our thriving Arizona ecosystem. Gordon McConnell, Associate Vice President of EIG, will be stepping down and moving into an advisory role for ASU EIG and sharing his talents with universities in the Middle East. He will be replaced by Dr. Mitzi Montoya.

“I am proud of the work that the EIG team and I have accomplished over the last three years, in particular the new initiatives like Alex, Furnace and Rapid Startup School,” McConnell said to AZTB. “The sign of success in our particular game is how well our startups and their founders do in the real world, and that will be a continuing source of pride for me. I will miss the wonderful EIG staff, the founders, our dedicated mentor pool and the hugely supportive ecosystem here in Arizona. Entrepreneurship in ASU is evolving to take on a new form, and I am sure there are more exciting successes to come under Dr. Montoya’s leadership.”

“At the same,” he said, “I am excited about the opportunity to go to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, one of the top universities in not just Saudi Arabia but the Middle East. And the irony is not lost on me that I am a pale Irish man going from one desert to another one!”

Montoya has been tasked by President Crow to continue the growth and advancement of EIG’s strategy and will have a joint role as vice president and University Dean of Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

“Gordon has been instrumental in advancing the entrepreneurship and innovation initiative at the University. During his tenure at ASU he created and cultivated numerous programs and platforms that helped position ASU as a leader in higher-education entrepreneurship and innovation,” Montoya said to AZTB. “We look forward to continuing to build on the foundation laid by Gordon by advancing the entrepreneurship and innovation strategy for the University, enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and driving collaboration initiatives across all of ASU’s academic programs.”

The E&I Group, launched in October 2010 as ASU Venture Catalyst, is a unit created as a joint initiative between the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and Arizona Technology Enterprises, to accelerate high-potential startup companies. The group also helps innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs launch their for-profit, nonprofit and more-than-profit ventures. Over the past three years, the unit has grown to encompass not just startup acceleration but a broad range of entrepreneurship-related activities across the university, the metro area and the state.

In recent months EIG successes include startup Fit Guard taking home the Territorial Cup and $10K, over the last 30 months Edson startups have helped create more than 50 direct and indirect jobs, and EIG program has been recognized with the Most Promising Technology Based Economic Development (TBED) Initiative award.

Learn more about ASU EIG programs and startups here.