Creating Startup Universities

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AREA48 Innovation Spaces

Project Goal
To advance high-growth entrepreneurs and new product development in regions hardest hit by the global economic crisis in order to accelerate economic recovery, growth and job creation.

Project Overview
ASU’s Applied Regional Economic Action 48 (AREA48) will pilot a new model for educating and supporting early-stage entrepreneurs by utilizing a hands-on, “pracademic approach” to create new markets, products, start-ups and jobs. By fostering deep collaboration among diverse entrepreneurial stakeholders, AREA48 will help to streamline existing entities to create a more inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. AREA48 is designed to supplement higher education with a hands-on, real-world-application method of learning by doing. By mixing students at all levels with experienced participants from a range of backgrounds, AREA48 offers experiential learning between both of these groups.

AREA48 will catalyze business growth and job creation by engaging the non-traditional target populations of retirees; military, veterans and defense (MDV) and recently unemployed yet highly-skilled workers, particularly those in the aerospace and construction fields. AREA48 will transform these “fallow” but high-potential populations into successful entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, advice and practical business training.

AREA48 is an adaptable and replicable model that can foster entrepreneurship in areas hit hardest by the global economic crisis across the nation. The long-term goal of AREA48, numbered 48 as Arizona is the 48th state, is to export the model to other states, (e.g., Alaska, as the 50th state, would be AREA50).  While Arizona’s AREA48 will target specific groups of ‘at-risk’ unemployed and MDV populations, each geographic region may target other at-risk or unemployed groups relevant to their AREA development.

Project Description
Core elements of the AREA48 model include a six-month long entrepreneurial action program that mixes product development activities, multi-disciplinary team development, startup creation and experiential learning based on pracademic teaching modules from Rapid Startup School.  Supported by ASU Venture Catalyst, which has a track record with early stage startups, senior pracademics from outside the program, such as technology, legal, entrepreneurial and venture capital experts including ASU staff, students and alumni, will provide more in-depth education.

The program will be located in a highly visible urban location in downtown Tempe, Ariz., and will create a ‘front shop’ test area open to the general public. Examples of collaborative space elements include co-working space, ‘huddle’ space, prototyping and testing; Hot Desking, pracademic space, virtual AREA48, front shop and showcase space open to the public, connections with Arizona-based corporate partners, and the ability for ASU to bring in early stage venture capital when the time is right. Through a dedicated physical and virtual space, AREA48 will establish the necessary tools to allow collaborative teams to create, test and bring new ideas to market.

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