Arizona Commerce Authority and Bioaccel Join Arizona’s First-of-its-Kind Statewide Business Accelerator: AZ Furnace

“AZ Furnace” encourages entrepreneurs to find and commercialize promising innovations originating in state’s universities and research institutions 


PHOENIX, AZ (August 27, 2012)  The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA), and BioAccel announce their collaboration with AZ Furnace, Arizona’s first-of-its-kind statewide business accelerator program that encourages entrepreneurs from across the country to find and commercialize innovations developed within the state’s universities and research institutions.  Partners already include Arizona State University (ASU), Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the Dignity Health Group.


The ACA will commit up to $400,000 in seed funding, with BioAccel matching up to $150,000. This financial commitment is an investment in Arizona’s overall economy by fostering promising, innovative business creation – a key initiative of both the ACA and BioAccel.


“AZ Furnace is a game changer in tech transfer and acknowledges that intellectual property generated by our state’s research institutions represents enormous economic value – AZ Furnace unlocks incredible potential,” said Sandra Watson, Interim President and CEO for the Arizona Commerce Authority. “The ACA is thrilled to join this collaboration to further foster business creation. Funding this initiative and providing technical assistance to launch and scale startups demonstrates our commitment to strengthen Arizona’s entrepreneurial community.”


The AZ Furnace program is a competitive process that encourages serial entrepreneurs, alumni, researchers, faculty, and postdocs to look at Arizona technologies in a new way. The university and research intellectual property (IP) has been amassed in a user-friendly database to promote competition among entrepreneurs interested in commercializing those technologies. Each successful team will also receive incubator/accelerator services from AZ Furnace partners.


AZ Furnace is designed to propel Arizona to a leadership position in the country by raising the visibility of Arizona’s research institutions and technology transfer offices and driving startup activity that is directly based on intellectual property and new technology disclosures.


Furnace will offer high-potential startup ventures a package worth more than $50,000 in cash and services. The package includes at least $25,000 in seed funding, incubation space in one of the program’s technology-providing institutions (ASU, NAU, Dignity Health Group, BioAccel), an intensive, mentor-led program for six months, and additional support services. Companies accepted into AZ Furnace must be based in Arizona as a stimulant to regional economic development and job creation.


“The identification of, and access to, qualified technologies and a robust pipeline is essential to successful commercialization, new company formation and Arizona’s ability to attract venture capital,” said MaryAnn Guerra the Chief Executive Officer of BioAccel. “BioAccel believes that AZ Furnace can play a critical role in improving our pipeline, which is why we are excited to provide the funding that will be used to support device-based technologies that will reside at BioInspire, our new medical device incubator located in the City of Peoria,” she added.


ASU Venture Catalyst, responsible for the AZ Furnace concept, and NAU work with high- potential start-up companies from both inside and outside the university system to advance technology commercialization.


“Furnace has become a true state-wide collaboration to drive economic development through the creation of new high-potential startups,” said Gordon McConnell, Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration at ASU’s Venture Catalyst. “The overwhelmingly positive response from partners like NAU and Dignity Health, as well as the financial backing from the ACA and BioAccel, demonstrates that now is the right time for a cutting-edge program like Furnace.”


For more information, visit azfurnace.orgor email [email protected].


Media Contact

Nicole McTheny, Arizona Commerce Authority, (602) 845-1231, [email protected]


About BioAccel 

BioAccel is a fully independent non-profit organization, based in Phoenix, dedicated to translating life science discoveries into new business opportunities that drive economic development by accelerating commercialization of technologies with a focus on diagnostics, therapeutics, devices, tools and services. (


About Venture Catalyst at ASU 

ASU Venture Catalyst equips high potential startups for success. The Catalyst assists university students, faculty and staff, as well as local and global companies, with launching startups or accelerating existing ventures. Based at ASU SkySong, The Catalyst offers investor connections, technology road maps, go-to-market strategy consulting,  mentoring  opportunities,  and  several  other  programs  and  services,  all designed to identify and develop investment-grade companies. (


About the Arizona Commerce Authority

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is the state’s leading economic development organization with a streamlined mission to grow and strengthen Arizona’s economy. The ACA uses a three-pronged approach to advance the overall economy: attract, expand, create – attract out-of-state companies to establish operations in Arizona; work with existing companies to expand their business in Arizona and beyond; and help entrepreneurs create new Arizona businesses in targeted industries. For more information, please visit and follow the ACA on Twitter at @azcommerce.