The Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, Arizona’s latest startup incubator, held its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on the morning of March 7 at GateWay Community College in Phoenix.
The new incubator is based at the community college and hopes to differentiate itself from other incubators in the Valley by taking advantage of campus facilities and resources.
“There’s a lot of similarities but there are definitely some differentiators, as well.” said CEI spokesman Greg Bullock.
Bullock said if a startup needs something that CEI doesn’t offer, the company should check out other local options.
“We’ve actually worked with the other incubators,” Bullock said. “We really see ourselves very much in partnership with the other incubators.”
CEI is certainly taking advantage of the space they’ve been allotted, boasting that it has “more than 30 office, wet lab and light manufacturing spaces, as well as state-of-the-art presentation technology, client server room, and additional collaborative and meeting areas,” which includes video conferencing. Bullock said the space allows the center to support between 30 and 35 startups, though it currently only has 11, with eight of those being “resident” clients and housed on campus.
CEI does charge rent based on square feet, but it does not take any equity in the companies it houses and the rates cover all utilities, Internet access and other resources.
For the first year, a startup can expect to pay $25 per square foot per month, increasing to $27 for the second year and $29 for the third year. The spaces range from 108 square feet to 692 square feet. Affiliate startups, which are not housed on campus, pay a flat $2500 annual rate, said Jeff Saville, CEI executive director.
Besides the facilities, Bullock said other aspects that differentiate CEI are an on-site patent attorney, on-site business counselor and student research teams.
For now, the center is targeting startups in four specific areas: bioscience and life-science, clean energy technology, software and technology services. Bullock said those areas should cover almost anyone who wants to start at CEI, although they won’t turn anyone away without trying to help.
“We’re willing to listen to anybody,” Bullock said.
GateWay was a “logical choice” to house an incubator, Bullock said. CEI was co-founded by GateWay president Dr. Eugene Giovannini, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Other speakers included Saville, Jasper Welch, president and CEO of the National Business Incubation Association, and Jacob Macias of the Economic Development Administration, which gave CEI about $3 million in funding, Bullock said. The City of Phoenix and Maricopa County Community College District also supplied funding, among other public and private partners, according to CEI.
Saville said he stepped in as executive director last August but that he was involved much earlier during the “design phase” of the project, which started being developed in 2006.
The other big college-supported incubator in the Valley is SkySong, Arizona State University’s 42-acre site on the border of Scottsdale and Tempe on Scottsdale Road. CEI has already been in contact with SkySong, and both Saville and Bullock expect future collaboration with SkySong.
“All those guys over at skysong are good guys and we like working with them for sure,” Saville said.
CEI already has one client that will be housed on both campuses, although Saville said the company would not be revealed until March 20. Another current client, Arbsource, moved from SkySong to CEI in September.
Saville said Arbsource moved to take advantage of CEI’s light source manufacturing space. The company started out in one space but has already grown into three spaces.
CEI already plans to grow its capacity, but Saville said the biggest limiting factor currently is capacity for counseling. With only three full-time staff members, CEI can only counsel so many startups at once.
Still, within the next 60 to 90 days, CEI plans on opening Phoenix’s first public histology lab, where biologists study the tissue and cell anatomy of plants and animals, Saville said. The lab will be run by Flagship Biosciences, which has a lab in Flagstaff, and CEI will collaborate with TGen to use the space. Students will also have the opportunity to use the lab and help CEI clients so they can get histology lab experience.
Though Saville is excited about the future of CEI and what it is able to provide, he stays focused on the primary purpose of the project.
“At the end of the day it’s all about the entrepreneur,” he said. Through them, he said, CEI hopes to promote job growth in the Valley.
Below is a list of CEI’s current clients.
- Voltmarc Technology Inc.
- Founded by Mark Mahoney
- “Patented technology that provides precise real-time circuitry readings in a fraction of the time (based on current industry practice).”
- Founded by Mark Sholin
- “Patented bioreactors reduce energy consumption without compromising speed/quality of treatment.”
- Green Ideas
- Founded by Charlie Popeck and Mark Wilhelm
- “Utilize a triple bottom line approach environment, society and economy.”
- Founded by Robert and Michelle Howard
- “Patent-pending server and client-side technologies improve web speed and reduces energy consumption for data centers.”
- DNA on a Shirt
- Founded by Darrin Grandmason
- “Utilizes patented technology to print high-definition artwork of DNA coding (people, animals, diseases) on shirts and other mediums.”
- Founded by Mary Juetten
- “Self-serve software application helps identify, store and protect intellectual property.”
- Founded by Sean Tierney and Kimbro Staken
- “Proprietary service to improve lifetime customer value for cloud and VPS service providors.”
- Cleanroom Clearance
- Founded by Greg Heiland
- “Partners with manufacturers to sell overstocked, slow-moving and/or discontinued infection/contamination control supplies at discount.”
- Founded by Phillip Felice
- “Improves overall photo and video quality while retaining functional ease of iPhone.”
- Founded by Tommy Andrews, Tom Lagerhausen and Edward Sanchez
- “Energy Reduction for Commercial/Industrial Boilers: Custom-designed and manufactured Eddy Draft Regulators (EDR) reduce fuel consumption by 5-15 percent for boilers.”
- Founded by Bala Adiseshan and Michael Chaisson
- “Software based solutions for enterprises and educational institutions. Provides unique software solutions that make it easy to share knowledge.”