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Companies must meet certain criteria to participate in the Arizona Innovation Challenge. Judges will screen each application to ensure all qualifications are met and all materials submitted through the proper format. If not met, applications will be removed from the competition, and notifications will not be made until the end of the first round.


All companies must be fit into one of the industries listed below (traditionally, retail or real estate businesses will not qualify for participation unless their service or product involves a unique technology solution):

  • Advanced Materials
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Aerospace / Defense
  • Bio / Life Sciences
  • Clean-tech / Renewable Energy
  • Information Technology – Hardware
  • Information Technology – Software

Innovative Ideas and Solutions

All applicants must have or be moving towards commercialization of a unique, innovative technology or a scientific solution to a marketplace issue(s) in an industry. Companies may not simply be involved in re-selling or expanding an existing technology. Typically, a retail, real estate, or professional services business will not qualify for participation unless their service or product embodies a unique technology solution. The standard typically used to help make this determination is if the company could or should pursue or have a patent on the technology, whether or not it chose to do so (for eligibility purposes, pursuing or having a patent is not required).

Corporate Status/Structure

All companies must be an existing, for-profit corporate entity such as a corporation, limited liability company or a partnership at the time of application. Sole proprietorships are not eligible. Companies that win the AIC will be required to provide requested documentation related to e-Verify compliance, being in good standing with the Arizona Corporation Commission, and other things.

Number of Employees

Applicants must have at least two but no more than 29 employees. The points below further refine the definition of an “employee” for the purpose of the AIC, in that the minimum number of two employees must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be non-administrative (person’s sole responsibility is not administrative in nature);
  • Must be full-time (working at least 35 hours/week for this company, paid or unpaid);
  • The two-employee minimum may include founders or active investors who otherwise meet these criteria;
  • In general, members of a board of directors or advisory boards, who are otherwise full-time employees of another company, may not be included as part of the two-employee minimum requirement;
  • Having more than one part-time employee add up to one or more full-time equivalent employee(s) to try to meet the minimum two-employee rule is not acceptable.
  • It is up to ACA discretion to determine the final qualifications of any applicant company.


Companies may not have more than $10,000,000 in net assets, which does not include capital from investors.


It is possible for an applying company to be located outside of Arizona, but that company must plan to relocate or build a significant portion of its operations to Arizona as well as commercialize their products/services in Arizona within the 12-month award period. The awardee's CEO/Founder must be able to participate in the Venture Ready program in person during the 12-month performance period. Additionally, for all companies, the awarded funds must be spent to the benefit of increasing jobs, revenue and capital spending in Arizona.

Commercialization Timing

Applications must demonstrate that the products or services being considered for AIC grant funding will likely begin generating commercial or licensing revenue for the company within 12 months after the company begins receiving funding, if the company is selected as an awardee. Grant funding received by the company is not considered as revenue for the AIC. At the ACA's discretion, applicant companies that are unlikely to generate revenue within 12 months, but otherwise meet all eligibility requirements, may still participate, be evaluated and receive feedback.

Prior Awarded Companies

The ACA is working to provide value and benefit to as many companies as possible in Arizona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Companies that win the AIC, are not eligible to win another AIC grant. If a prior awardee is interested in completing the application and would like feedback on it to aid in pitching or the presentation of the company in other ecosystem events, please contact the AIC Program Manager for a personal review.

ACA Discretion

It is up to ACA discretion to determine the final qualifications of any applicant company relative to its eligibility to compete in any round of the AIC. It is also up to ACA discretion to maintain an applicant company within a given competition, including, but not limited to the discovery of new information during any round of given competition, which might be deemed to affect its eligibility to continue in that competition.