SparkLabs Frontier–ASU: How Arizona State University’s New Accelerator Program Will Drive Innovation

By Amit Chowdhry ● April 5, 2019


ASU Campus / Credit: ASU

Arizona State University (ASU) and accelerator network SparkLabs Group recently announced a partnership called SparkLabs Frontier–ASU. SparkLabs Frontier–ASU is going to provide training, mentorship, and investments for all participants at Arizona State’s various schools and programs like the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, W. P. Carey School of Business and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Plus this program will be open to any ASU alumni.

The accelerator program is going to be starting in July and applications will open on May 13. The program is going to be managed for ASU by ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, which will complement the university’s hub for entrepreneurship services and resources available for students, faculty, alumni, and broader Phoenix community.

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“Entrepreneurial for ASU means partnerships and alliances, and it means driving ideas, technologies and inventions that matter, that will have real impact,” said Arizona State University President Michael Crow. “Partnerships like this one with SparkLabs Group will move innovation and entrepreneurialism forward, which is necessary for the continuation of the success of the state, the country and the world.”

Interestingly, SparkLabs Frontier–ASU will have a pre-accelerator component focused on developing program participants over the course of three to four months. The pre-accelerator program is going to help individuals develop startup ideas and bring together co-founders to improve the chances of getting accepted into the primary accelerator program run by SparkLabs Frontier–ASU. The training and seminars are going to cover topics like team building, business ethics, and startup fundraising. Once the pre-accelerator portion is completed, the four-month accelerator program is going to bring in six to eight startups.

“SparkLabs Frontier–ASU’s mission is to identify, nurture and scale the development and growth of outstanding startup founders from ASU’s world-leading blend of engineering, business and management talent and technology. This tremendously exciting partnership will bring ASU student and alumni companies into the SparkLabs family of over 200 world-class startups, helping to scale and realize their global ambitions,” added SparkLabs Group co-founder and partner Frank Meehan. Meehan is known as one of the lead investors in DeepMind and Siri via his previous firm.

SparkLabs Frontier–ASU is going to connect with select training partners like the Global Scaling Academy — which was founded by Jeff Abbott and Chris Yeh. The Global Scaling Academy helps organizations learn and apply lessons of “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies.” Yeh developed these methodologies with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.

ASU is considered the only university to be ranked the number one most innovative school in the United States by U.S. News & World Report — which the institution retained for four straight years. And ASU is ranked 17th globally for patents in 2018 by U.S. National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering has one of the largest numbers of engineering students with over 22,000 students. With this pool of available talent, there is bound to be some interesting ideas with a global impact that surface from the accelerator program.

Plus SparkLabs Fronter–ASU is going to be supported by an advisory board of diverse talent including Steven Johnson (best selling popular science author), MC Hammer (Grammy Award-winning music artist), Barry Munitz (California State University System chancellor emeritus), and Katharina Borchert (Mozilla chief innovation officer). And the Venture Partners for SparkLabs Frontier–ASU include Yeh, Jimmy Lin (Rare Genomics Institute founder), Jen Millard (chief revenue officer of GetUpside), and Jared Carney (CEO of Lightdale).