2021 Arizona Innovation challenge winners announced

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The Arizona Innovation Challenge is one of the largest business plan competitions in the country and is meant to advance innovation and technology opportunities in Arizona. The winners of this year’s challenge were recently announced, as we learned from Andrew Lombard, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Venture Development for the Arizona Commerce Authority.

This challenge has been around for ten years, and the entire state and country participate in it. This was designed to help early-stage startup companies get off the ground.

“We designed this ten years ago really to just start understanding our ecosystem from a startup perspective we really did not have an understanding of how many startups what type of startups and what type of technical and education assistance they might need,” Lombard said.

Lombard said he has noticed an incredible change in how these companies operate in these ten years.

“In the beginning stages, you could imagine they were new fresh companies that we were trying to get into revenue or start their electronic development process, the majority of those are already in revenue generally or will be in revenue within a year,” Lombard said.

There are usually 85-120 applicants for the innovation challenge every year, which are widdled down through a judging process with expert judges, these are decreased down to 25 semifinalists and 15 finalists.

The Venture Ready program s designed to help these ten companies get mentors and community experts in achieving success in their respective fields. Lombard said the companies that go through the Venture ready program afterward have a 97% success rate afterward.

Andrew Lombard, Executive Vice President of Innovation, Venture Development and Small Business for the Arizona Commerce Authority

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