Tucson’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Gathers For McGuire Innovation Expo
March 2, 2017
The McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship hosted the first ever McGuire Innovation Expo on Feb. 23, 2017
The gathering of Tucson’s entrepreneurial ecosystem included more than 30 participating new ventures and entrepreneurial organizations in five themed pavilions on the University of Arizona Mall.
"We believe it is important to bring together entrepreneurship students, top entrepreneurial organizations, and world-class innovation education and commercialization opportunities that showcase Tucson's growing entrepreneurial community,” said McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship Director Remy Arteaga.
Themed pavilions for Technology, Social Innovation, Health & Biotech, Lifestyle & Leadership, and Software & Services featured a mix of organizations that support the local entrepreneurial community. Exhibitors included education and commercialization programs from across the UA, student clubs, McGuire Entrepreneurship Program new venture teams and alumni, community organizations, local startups, and sponsors.
"Attending the McGuire Innovation Expo was such an honor," said Dani Schiess, operations manager at Connect Coworking, one of the exhibitors at the event. "In my eyes, the event was filled with innovative problem solvers who want 'better' and won't settle for less. It is absolutely inspiring to be part of this entrepreneurial community."
The Innovation Expo was also an opportunity for the McGuire Center to showcase its many diverse and growing curricular, co-curricular, and community programs. The Center booth highlighted student opportunities such as the Student Entrepreneurship Association, bi-weekly McGuire Innovation Talks, and the new Social Innovation Certificate, as well as community programs, such as the Business Certificate, Nonprofit Leadership Certificate, and Business Consulting.
The McGuire Innovation Expo expanded upon a previous annual trade show for McGuire Program student new venture teams, but the larger event this year afforded students a superior educational and networking opportunity, said McGuire Program Director Joseph Broschak. The McGuire Program, a competitive-entry program open to UA seniors and graduate students from any field of study, provides a year of intensive experiential education that engages students in the process of moving innovation from an early-stage idea to a sustainable investor-ready venture. The student teams that presented at McGuire Innovation Expo have been developing their new venture since the beginning of Fall '16.
"Participating in the McGuire Innovation Expo is a critical step in students' education,” said Broschak. "It requires them to articulate and validate their venture ideas with potential customers, users, and investors who they do not already know and who are not predisposed to like their ventures. In contrast to researching and designing venture ideas in the classroom, experiential learning through the McGuire Innovation Expo makes the venture real and accelerates students understanding about what’s needed and what’s possible. This type of learning is invaluable to entrepreneurship students."
McGuire Program student Jessica Lazzeroni (Marketing and Entrepreneurship, '17) said the Innovation Expo made her feel one step closer to her childhood dream of launching a business. She and her team were able to conduct valuable market research during the event for their new venture Conspiracy Cosmetics, a customizable, luxury cosmetics company with an emphasis on social responsibility, natural ingredients and sustainable practices.
"This event has been so great!" she said. "This is our target demographic so we're gathering customer validation research and we're getting a lot of great feedback and research results today."
"This has been so validating because so many people have loved the idea of Conspiracy Cosmetics," agreed teammate Lauren Sayers (Marketing and Entrepreneurship, '17).
Microsoft, the McGuire Center's Social Innovation Sponsor, also participated in the event to promote Microsoft Social Catalyst, which focuses on engaging university students through Microsoft’s social impact stories and partnering to make a positive social impact on the world.
"It's amazing the progress that these students have made on their ideas over the past few months through the McGuire Program," said Mike Miles, a general manager at Microsoft. "It was very energizing to hear project teams describe their ideas and – for some of them – share their thoughts on how they are incorporating social impact into the mission for their ventures and I am delighted that Microsoft could be a part of this year's Expo and the McGuire Program overall."
Social impact is a common theme among many McGuire Program new ventures. Kory Chinn (MIS and Entrepreneurship, ’17) of Nunami Labs, which crafts high performance smart sensors for self-driving cars, said he was drawn to the McGuire Program for this very reason.
"It may sound cheesy, but I really do want to change the world for the better, and I think entrepreneurship and creating new innovations are the best way to have a positive economic and social impact," he said. "The McGuire Program is not only one of the top-ranked entrepreneurship programs in the country, but it also offers hands-on experience. Students in the program learn by doing. It gives us the chance to work on our venture for a whole year while still in school which can help give our business a head start."
2017 Event Participants
Social Innovation Sponsor
- Agricultural Leadership and Innovation Certificate
- Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation (ACABI)
- BIO5 Institute
- Eller Economic Development Program (EED)
- Eller MBA
- Eller Social Innovation
- McGuire Entrepreneurship Program New Venture Teams
- Student Entrepreneurship Association
- Tech Launch Arizona
- Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing
- University of Arizona Libraries
- Connect Coworking
- Startup Tucson