Three startups will advance their ventures through a new pilot program developed by the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and Arizona FORGE to create support services for a seamless startup continuum.
The first cohort participating in the pilot program includes startups Metfora, Obánj and Dive. The three companies will advance to the UACI, having just completed the Arizona FORGE Advanced Entrepreneur Program (AEP), an eight-week program that provides early-stage entrepreneurs with accelerated education about general startup venture concepts and the tools needed to initiate a startup. UACI works with multi-stage startups, immerses them with support centered around a 27-point roadmap and is the next sequential step where people, programming and places help entrepreneurs launch their startup, grow and scale.
Metfora is a diagnostics startup that helps to diagnose chronic diseases with artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted metabolic analysis. The Metfora team is developing a straightforward blood test based on multiplexed panels of metabolites that can differentially diagnose chronic diseases with AI precision less invasively, less costly and at the onset of symptoms. Company founders Ruslan Rafikov, Olga Rafikova and Alex Borovinskiy are University of Arizona (UArizona) faculty members.
Obánj is a sustainability platform where the world’s most stylish and conscientious women borrow Gucci, Dior and other luxury jewelry for as low as $29/month through a shared/circular economy. Company founder Melissa Kiguwa is a UArizona alumna.
Dive is a software platform that reshapes the future of storing and sharing knowledge online. Dive enables students, professionals, researchers and developers to curate, structure and share knowledge effortlessly. Company founders Daniel Frost (Eller College of Management) and Sahand Sabet (PhD in Mechanical Engineering) are UArizona students.
“Our team is exploring new ideas and developing pilot programs like this that lead to high-impact change within the Southern Arizona innovation ecosystem,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation. “We are redefining UArizona’s innovation landscape and engaging with entrepreneurs and the community to bridge resources and accelerate the most promising inventions.”
The pilot program is a natural evolution in the growing innovation ecosystem at UArizona. The entrepreneurial culture on campus has seen rapid momentum, and the network of resources available is expanding to meet the growing demand. UArizona serves both the community inside the university as well as the larger Tucson startup community.
About the UA Center for Innovation
The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) is a startup incubator network with outposts across the Southern Arizona region and a mission to grow scalable science and technology startup ventures that fuel the Arizona economy. For nearly two decades, the program has directly served over 150 companies and impacted thousands of entrepreneurs. This is done through providing access to people, programming and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. Startups go through a structured program that takes them through a continuum of education provided by mentors, advisors and community collaborators. UACI also provides access to service providers, industry cluster groups, interns and connections to potential customers and strategic partners. Entrepreneurs utilize various physical spaces that include offices, wet and dry labs, meeting rooms, a prototyping center, collaboration areas and the infrastructure to support these spaces. The UACI is part of Tech Parks Arizona, which brings together university, industry and community, creating “interactive ground” to advance technology innovation.
About Arizona FORGE
Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs (FORGE) has three critical missions:
• Inspire and cultivate entrepreneurial thinking (FORGE’d at UA)
• Advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem (FORGE at Roy Place)
• Drive scale-up/launch acceleration (FORGE Ahead)
FORGE develops innovation challenges, programs and events that engage students, entrepreneurs, researchers, mentors and investors to drive entrepreneurial thinking and drive startup acceleration.
Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/tech-events to view all of the Council’s upcoming virtual tech networking opportunities, engaging virtual tech events and in-person tech events.