ASU gets hands-on with student startups, and the community's economy benefits

Through incubators, contests and clubs, student entrepreneurs are rewarded for their efforts at ASU

Arizona State University welcomes the entrepreneurial and innovative spirits of the world, while simultaneously offering them the perfect location for the development and sustained growth of their wildest ambitions. The impact and reach of this support, however, seems to be unknown to both the local and national community. 

Chris Samuels, director of communications for the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, has been astonished by the recent level of local investment and support for young entrepreneurs.

“Tempe has been slowly climbing the ranks of business cities, and the work that ASU administrators, clubs, and investors do has drastically helped students actualize their unique and profitable ideas,” Samuels said. 

Tempe has continuously grown its proportion of the Arizona economy, and Samuels was not hesitant to credit the University as a direct factor in the city’s almost meteoric rise to profitability over the last decade. 

Among the city's recent achievements has been an almost 4% growth in employment, along with a 3% growth in property value and a 2% growth in median household income just from the last year, according to U.S. Census data.

“ASU’s persistence when it comes to student startups has been extremely impressive, and they are definitely bridging the gap between the entrepreneurial youth and the business networks they need to get their ideas front and center,” Samuels added. 

The school’s support of enterprising and driven students doesn’t stop at networking, but also involves offering opportunities for investment and multiple competitions to help students gather vital funding in the early stages of their businesses. 

Students participate in several startup competitions and get the chance to prove the worth of their ideas in exchange for direct connections with venture capital firms and investors looking to get in at the ground floor. 

The latest example of one of these school-sponsored competitions, saw ASU cosponsoring a contest for student startups and offering the winner $100,000 courtesy of the technological firm Avnet

Lisa Stovall, an administrative assistant working in Avnet, explained that the competition was just the beginning of their student outreach efforts. 

"Part of working in the tech field is constantly scanning the country for entrepreneurial and motivated students," Stovall said. 

"Avnet is constantly finding new ways to give back to its local community. And what better than providing the financial backing for students that could one day be contributing directly to the company?" 

Avnet is by no means a small fry in the Arizona economy, but it was able to directly contribute venture funding to a student startup thanks to one of the many school competitions offered at ASU. 



Besides the constant administrative support and assistance that ambitious students have access to, ASU also has a number of entrepreneurial clubs that help students realize the full potential of their business ideas. 

Students within the Sun Devil community have been an active and vibrant part of the economic scene developing both within Tempe and the state as a whole, showing exactly why its vital for ASU to continue its support and bolstering of the student entrepreneur community.

The Health Entrepreneurship and Innovation club has dedicated itself to the furthering of ambitious, student-driven solutions to health industry problems and bottlenecks. Nico De Bruyn is an activities officer within the organization and he believes that ASU startups are already revolutionizing the health trade. 

“Students are constantly striving for new and unique ways to help evolve the health industry, and we simply try and place them on the best possible path to achieving that goal upon their graduation,” De Bruyn said. 

The club has been connecting enterprising ASU students with local hospitals and clinics and helping them to concretely organize their ideas for the future of the health field. 

“People often are initially dismissive of student solutions to the complex problems of the health industry, but we find that often students understand amazingly well just how much nuance and tactfulness is required to get past these obstacles,” De Bruyn said. 


Reach the reporter at lvukcevi@asu.edu or follow @LazarStatePress on Twitter.

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