Governor Katie Hobbs joined researchers and local business leaders on the Tempe campus to kick off PHX Startup Week, a week-long event to gather people from all parts of the local business community.
The event, which took place at the ASU 365 Community Union in Sun Devil Stadium on Monday morning, featured speakers from ASU and Arizona businesses.
“I'm proud of our entrepreneurial ecosystem that so many here in this room have invested their time and talent to build and nurture,” Hobbs said at the event. "Every trend line is promising and validates your hard work.”
ASU and the state government have made large investments in microchip manufacturing. ASU has a pipeline program into one of the largest and newest microchip factories in the country in north Phoenix.
In her remarks, Hobbs said the state is home to large investments into developing more technology, through the CHIPS and Science Act, which increases funding towards towards technological efforts including microchip manufacturing.
She said the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company factory in north Phoenix, which is set to begin operations in 2024, is an example of Arizona's advancement in the tech industry. She also said Arizona used funding from the Inflation Reduction Act to create more opportunities.
Hobbs also criticized the inequities in investment and entrepreneurial circles.
“Even with all of this progress, we should have no illusions about current inequities and venture capital funding, which currently reaches overwhelmingly white, already well-resourced individuals, and the challenges that remain for underrepresented founders," Hobbs said.
In order to improve those inequities, Hobbs said she is giving $10.3 million in the proposed state budget for community colleges, especially focused on STEM.
David Thomas, executive director of the MILO Space Science Institute at ASU, was also at the event to speak about addressing inequities in space exploration. He announced a new partnership with the Equity Space Alliance, a company that works to make space more accessible to diverse groups.
The audience itself was composed of entrepreneurs, including those with companies concerned with sustainability and environmental causes. Ricky Marton, a Ph.D. student at ASU studying innovation in global development program in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and co-founder and CEO of Philanthrofi spoke about how this event helps local entrepreneurs.
“Something like the startup week is really desirable for me, kind of in the early stage of entrepreneurship that I am currently," Marton said. He founded Philanthrofi in 2021.
While he is currently on a leave of absence from the University, he highlighted the importance of ASU in his startup journey.
“My research at ASU was kind of the foundation of what built this company,” Marton said. “We also gained some funding from a couple pitch competitions too, so it was very integral to the foundation of where we are today,” Marton said.
The opening day of PHX Startup Week was sustainability day. One of the guest speakers regarding sustainability was NXU, which recently rebranded from Atilis Motor Vehicles. They are a Mesa-based company producing batteries for electric vehicles.
Their founder and CEO Mark Hanchett and the president, Annie Pratt, spoke about their mission to scale their batteries to multiple applications, from electric golf carts to home power.
The PHX Startup Week ends on Friday, and it will continue to highlight entrepreneurship in Arizona, both within and outside of ASU.
Edited by Shane Brennan, Jasmine Kabiri and Anusha Natarajan.