Tucson Realty


Startup ecosystem taking root in Tucson region

Teams of entrepreneurs lined up inside the Arizona Center for Innovation awaiting the chance to deliver a pitch that, with hopes, might grab the attention of a potential investor sitting in the audience.

The event was the fourth annual Pitch Day at the center in the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park, 9070 S. Rita Road. The event featured 22 teams of hopefuls from across the state each of which was given five minutes to sell their fledgling product.

“This is the best it’s ever been in my experience,” said Curtis Gunn, chairman of the Southern Arizona investor group the Desert Angels.

Gunn, who has been with the Desert Angels for 12 years, said the startup culture in Southern Arizona appeared to be gaining momentum.

As an example, he said the Desert Angels had its most active year of investing in 2012. The group invested more than $3.9 million in 19 different companies, all but one from Arizona.

He said the region was starting to become ripe with investing opportunities, particularly in tech-related startup companies.

“My sense is that we’re doing amazing things here and people are just now starting to notice it,” Gunn said.

The teams who attended the event included the maker of a solar-powered portable construction lighting tower, developers of a heartier breed of crop plants and branded merchandise website that allows people to submit designs for band, festival and film merchandise.

For this year’s event, Arizona Center for Innovation teamed up with the Arizona Business Incubation Association, a membership group dedicated to the promotion of business incubation.

The partnership brought teams, venture groups and university affiliated organizations from across the state and as far away as Santa Monica, Calif.

In addition to the influx of teams presenting business plans, the event saw increased interest from potential investors.

“The Tech Park is all about trying to advance new technologies,” said Bruce Wright, UA associate vice president for Research Parks.

Wright said the elements to create a culture of innovation in Southern Arizona have been around for some time.

“I think we’ve always had the potential to do successful technology commercialization,” Wright said.

The revamped Tech Launch Arizona along with the Arizona Center for Innovation and groups like Startup Tucson, Gangplank Tucson and the Arizona Technology Council all have added to the regional startup ecosystem.

Read More of the article by Patrick McNamara at Inside Tucson Business


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