The Arizona Commerce Authority hosted an event in the Levine Machine Building on August 15 to start the AZ Innovation Challenge competition. 300 applicants apply each year to compete twice a year for up to $250,000 in funding. The competition was started to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona and create jobs to stimulate the economy.
The Arizona Commerce Authority wants Arizona to be seen as a great place for business and entrepreneurship so supporting them is the first step. “We hosted this event to give details about the upcoming Innovation Challenge, but more importantly to convene the ecosystem of Arizona,” explained Randy Gustafson, Vice President of Innovation of the Arizona Commerce Authority. He conveyed that by hosting the event in the Levine Machine Building, Arizona is given a “cool and interesting” atmosphere for incubating companies. In addition, all of these startups are given the opportunity to connect with creative entrepreneurs in a unique atmosphere.
The event consisted of several speakers including Doug Ducey, former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, Clate Mask, co-founder of Infusionsoft, and Andy Lombard, founder of Venture Ready. Each of the speakers focused on how their companies got started and thrived in the friendly Arizona ecosystem. Doug Ducey described that starting Cold Stone in Tempe was the key to their success because of the welcoming environment and spirit of the community.
After the speeches, guests were welcome to visit the tables of technology companies, law firms, local incubators, and past Innovation Challenge winners, to make connections and find resources based in Arizona.
More about Arizona Innovation Challenge:
Funding: $3 million each year by the Arizona Commerce Authority