Arizona Commerce Authority now accepting applications for Arizona Innovation Challenge

Arizona Innovation Challenge

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) announced today that they are accepting applications for the 10th annual Arizona Innovation Challenge, the largest business plan competition in the country, starting Monday, July 26. 

The Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC) advances innovation and technology commercialization opportunities in the state by helping early-stage ventures to scale.

The ACA has picked 110 AIC awardees from over 2,000 applicants over the last 10 years. Awardees span industries from clean and renewable energy and IT and software to bio and life sciences and advanced manufacturing.

The AIC includes three judging rounds, where companies receive constructive feedback on applications. Judges will select up to 25 semifinalists from the applicant pool, before narrowing this list down to 15 finalists that will pitch their startups in-person to a panel of investors.

The judges then will decide on 10 companies to receive AIC awards for 2021.

Even if they aren’t selected as an awardee, participants will have an opportunity to consult with the ACA about their application and other potential resources available to help improve business plans.

After the competition, a maximum of 10 companies will be added to the AIC portfolio and will participate in the ACA’s Venture Ready Accelerator. The accelerator program connects companies to serial entrepreneurs, high-level execs and experts in their subject.

Those in the accelerator will complete panels and workshops in the nine months after receiving their award. These events will that teach the companies’ leaders to refine business plans, improve go-to-market execution strategies and increase investor readiness.

“Now in its tenth year, the Arizona Innovation Challenge continues to enrich Arizona’s vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem while serving as a model for the rest of the country,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We are proud to host this year’s competition and the Venture Ready Accelerator to support Arizona’s next generation of tech entrepreneurs. We’ve seen previous awardees go on to make a name for themself on the world stage and look forward to reviewing this year’s exciting entries.”

Applications are submitted here and will be accepted until Friday, August 27 at 5pm MST.

The ACA is holding four free virtual workshops to provide interested applicants more information about the competition, application process, eligibility and guidelines. Register for the Zoom workshops here.