States – Arizona

Arizona Resources

Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC)

Miguel Jardine
Manager, Technology Commercialization
Administrator, Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC)
Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA)
118 N. 7th Ave., Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602) 845-1249
miguelj@azcommerce.com

Purpose of Initiative

The Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), powered by the Arizona Commerce Authority, provides funding awards to promising science and technology ventures. The AIC is a bi-annual business plan competition, and awards up to $250,000 in funding to qualified, innovative startups, and early stage companies to grow their business in Arizona.

Eligibility

Applicants must be an existing, for-profit corporate entity with at least 2 but fewer than 30 employees, and no more than $10,000,000 in net assets (which does not include capital from investors). Applicants must have or be moving towards commercialization of an innovative technology or a scientific solution to a marketplace issue(s) in an industry. All applicants must fit into one of the following industries: Advanced Materials; Advanced Manufacturing; Aerospace / Defense; Bio / Life Sciences; Clean-tech / Renewable Energy; and Information Technology (Hardware or Software). NOTE: By statute, applicant companies may not be engaged in any activities that involve human cloning or embryonic stem cell research. Prior AIC awardees are not eligible to win another AIC grant.

Companies located outside of Arizona may apply for the award, however they must plan to relocate or build a significant portion of its operations in Arizona, as well as commercialize their product/services in Arizona within the 12-month award period. All of the funds awarded through the AIC program must be spent to the benefit of increasing jobs, revenue and capital spending in Arizona.

Application Process

The application for the AIC is submitted online via the ACA Valid Evaluation system. There is a first round and semifinalist round of applications. The primary differences, other than submission window timing, is that the first round applications will generally have a limit of 3 pages in length, while the semifinalist applications will generally have a limit of 11 total pages – covering similar information, but in much greater detail.

Companies selected to advance to the finalist round will be asked to produce a slide-show presentation for in-person “pitches” to the finalist judge panel.

The AIC is highly competitive and includes a vetting process that typically lasts four months from the opening of the first round applicant window to the announcement of the winners.

Applicants are evaluated on the qualifications of their team, market potential of their technology, strategies to commercialize their product or service, and the potential risk versus benefit to the state of Arizona.

Award Details

Each year there is a spring and fall awards cycle, with a total budget of $3 million of available funding per year ($1.5 million for each cycle). Between 6 and 15 winners will be named for each competition cycle. Award amounts can range from $100,000 to $250,000 per company as requested by each company when they submit their application. However, given that the majority of companies that apply ask for $250,000, typically 6 winning companies are selected as winners for each competition to help them advance from startup-up or early stage status to the next level. These investments represent non-dilutive capital and will be provided to the winning companies as they attain certain business milestones during a 12-month period. Funds must be used in a manner that is directly related to commercializing or expanding the sales of the company’s service or product over the 12-month period following the award.

Normally, the full grant amount is not provided to the winning company upfront, but rather is distributed over the duration of the 12-month commercialization period, as per the agreed upon individual milestones that must occur in order to receive the full award funding.

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) – Competitive Advantage Awards (CAA)

Mary O’Reilly
Director, Industry Partnerships
Science Foundation Arizona
1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 884-1786
moreilly@sfaz.org

Purpose of Initiative

The Competitive Advantage Awards (CAA) program invests in researchers of exceptional quality to create a competitive advantage in strategic areas important to Arizona. The purpose of the CAA program is to identify research proposals that have the greatest potential to secure significant federal grants following a Science Foundation Arizona investment award.

Eligibility

The initial CAA investments support outstanding Arizona researchers in three strategic areas: Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Sustainable Systems (SUS) and Biosciences (BIO).

Application Process

The investment focuses on exceptionally meritorious proposals recognized by an expert, extramural federal review, but not funded due to lack of funds in the relevant federal agency.

The program was been expanded to provide new opportunity investments to impact exceptional ideas at an early stage of development.

Award Details

Competitive Advantage investments provide bridge financing to research projects identified by an independent review panel as having the greatest potential to secure significant federal funding within 18-24 months following the award.

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) – Small Business Catalytic Investment program (SBC)

Mary O’Reilly
Director, Industry Partnerships
Science Foundation Arizona
1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 884-1786
moreilly@sfaz.org

Purpose of Initiative

The purpose of the Small Business Catalytic Investment program (SBC) is to invest in innovation at Arizona’s Research-Performing Institutions (RPI) that will have high impact commercial outcomes. The goal is to catalyze technology development, company formation, and high-tech job creation in Arizona.

Eligibility

University-based spin-off companies, from Arizona’s Research-Performing Institutions (RPI), in three areas of strategic importance to the state: Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Sustainable Systems (SUS), and Biosciences (BIO).

Award Details

The Small Business Catalytic investment program provides seed funding to university-based spin-off companies, enabling researchers to secure larger amounts of funding for technology commercialization. Companies created as a result of Science Foundation Arizona funding must remain in Arizona for a minimum of five years.

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) – Strategic Research Group Investments

Mary O’Reilly
Director, Industry Partnerships
Science Foundation Arizona
1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85257
(480) 884-1786
moreilly@sfaz.org

Purpose of Initiative

The purpose of the Strategic Research Group investments is to increase the probability of attracting major federal research center funding, or large group grants, and to work on research problems of significant importance to industry partners. These investments anchor major industry R&D to the state, create commercial products, and increase the probability of attracting major federal research funding and large group grants.

Eligibility

The Strategic Research Groups Investments seed strategic collaborations between Arizona’s research institutions and industry partners to create economic advantages for the state in the strategic areas of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Sustainable Systems (SUS) and Biosciences (BIO). Industry partners are required to match the SFAz investments dollar-for-dollar.

Application Process

Each investment proposal must define how it manages and/or leverages intellectual property to the competitive advantage of Arizona.

Updated: March 2018, Diane Meade

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