Guidelines for the Arizona Innovation Challenge are clearly defined in the application instructions. Guidelines cover application timing, format, and submission logistics. They must be adhered to, otherwise submitted applications will not be allowed to continue in the competition.
All companies must download the AIC application and financial template, complete them, and upload the documents to the ACA Innovation Network, the electronic platform used to administer the Arizona Innovation Challenge. The application window will remain open for up to four weeks.
For the semifinalist round only, in addition to the application and financial model from the first round, selected companies may also be required to provide a pitch deck and narrative surrounding the judges' feedback provided to the company. Other information may also be allowed but will be communicated to the semifinalists and is at the discretion of the ACA.
Companies selected to advance to the finalist round will be asked to produce a slide-show presentation for in-person “pitches” to the finalist judge panel. A suggested presentation framework will be provided to finalists to demonstrate key and consistent information for the final judge panel to evaluate and will follow along with critical information already addressed in the semifinal application and provided pitch deck. Following the presentation phase of the pitch, there will be a feedback/question and answer phase – whereby the judges are given the opportunity to provide feedback and/or ask questions to further clarify or dive deeper into the company’s opportunity and proposal for funding. Additional supporting slides may be presented by the company during this phase in anticipation of issues and/or to present more information if/as needed. The pitch format is regimented and defined, and the ground rules for it are given to the finalists prior to their pitch dates as well as reiterated at the beginning of their actual pitch.
The Arizona Innovation Challenge is highly competitive and includes a vetting process that typically lasts more than four months from the opening of the first round applicant window to the announcement of the awardees. Many past awardees have applied multiple times. While there are many criteria that drive successful applications, companies demonstrating higher levels of market, investor, or regulatory validation and customer or financial traction tend to be more competitive. Additionally, each season of the contest is a new, independent competition. Companies applying should not necessarily expect they will score better than they did in a prior season because of a number of factors, such as new applicants putting forth more competitive applications.