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Thunderbird Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship Joins Arizona Furnace Accelerator

September 4, 2012

New partnership will add talent and know-how to the state-wide program

The Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at Thunderbird School of Global Management has announced that they are joining the Arizona Furnace Accelerator. Furnace is a first-of-its-kind statewide business accelerator program that encourages entrepreneurs globally to find and commercialize innovations developed within the Arizona's universities and research institutions. Partners already include Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Dignity Health Arizona. Thunderbird’s partnership will add a wealth of talent and know-how to the initiative that is aimed at getting Arizona-sponsored technology off the shelf and into the marketplace, in the form of new high-potential startups.

The addition of Thunderbird as a partner expands the pool of entrepreneurial business talent to global proportions. Thunderbird is ranked #1 in the world for international business and their alumni base is one of the most entrepreneurial in the world. With more than 40,000 alumni in more than 140 countries, Thunderbird’s partnership with Furnace will help expose the competition to an international audience.

“Arizona Furnace is providing an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs the world over to obtain significant seed funding and, even more importantly, the resources they need to start and grow their venture,” said Robert Hisrich Ph.D., Director of Thunderbird’s Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship.

“Thunderbird is very enthusiastic about the Furnace accelerator and what it means for job creation and the growth of the entrepreneurial sector in Arizona. We look forward to involving our globally-minded alumni in this initiative.”

Arizona Furnace Accelerator recently confirmed the funding sources and levels for startups coming out of the competition. The Arizona Commerce Authority will commit up to $400,000 in seed funding, with BioAccel matching up to $150,000. This financial commitment is an investment in Arizona's overall economy fostering promising, innovative business creation - a key initiative of both the ACA and BioAccel.

Furnace is an innovative startup accelerator designed to incubate and launch new companies created by licensing technology and intellectual property from Arizona's premiere public and private research institutions. Furnace will be an intensive, six-month accelerator experience for startups; providing them with initial seed funding, office space, and access to top industry mentors. Participants in Furnace will have access to the top discoveries made in Arizona laboratories and the opportunity to commercialize those technologies into high-potential startups.

Furnace will offer startup ventures a package worth more than $50,000 in cash and services. The package includes at least $25,000 in grant seed funding, and 6 months of incubation space in either the ASU SkySong facility, the BioAccel incubator space BioInspire, or at NAU’s partner incubator, NACET. The program is an intensive, 6-month, mentor-led accelerator program, and includes several additional support services. Applicant teams that are accepted into Furnace must be based in Arizona as a stimulant to regional economic development and job creation.

Furnace is a competitive process that encourages serial entrepreneurs, alumni, researchers, faculty, and postdocs to look at Arizona technologies in a new way. More than 150 discoveries made in research labs, and the resulting intellectual property (IP) has been amassed in a user-friendly database to promote competition among entrepreneurs interested in commercializing those technologies.

Interested entrepreneurs can review technologies and apply online at http://www.azfurnace.org/. Furnace teams and companies can be formed around one or more technologies from an individual research institute or a combination of institutes within the Furnace partners network. The Furnace competition officially opened on August 28 and will remain open until September 30. Companies are invited to apply and those chosen as semi-finalists will be invited to ASU SkySong to pitch their company in front of a panel of network partner judges.

Recently Sandra Watson, Interim President and CEO for the Arizona Commerce Authority said, “Arizona Furnace is a game changer in tech transfer and acknowledges that intellectual property generated by our state's research institutions represents enormous economic value - Arizona Furnace unlocks incredible potential.”

Persons interested in applying for this program are encouraged to get involved in the following ways: attend the Furnace Networking Reception on September 6 at ASU SkySong, where entrepreneurs can meet other Furnace applicants and potential founding team members; attend the next Furnace Information Session on September 19 at ASU SkySong, where participating partners will be on hand to answer questions about Furnace, the application process, and the technologies available for commercialization; and join the Furnace LinkedIn group.