Innovation Revolution

May 17, 2023

Celebrating the Entrepreneurial Spirit

Innovation Revolution By Arizona Alumni Magazine

This article originally appeared in the  Arizona Alumni Magazine-

This innovation ecosystem also builds student resilience through programs like Arizona FORGE. Headquartered in downtown Tucson’s historic Roy Place Building, FORGE launched in 2019 with a core mission that includes cultivating entrepreneurial thinking, advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and driving the scale-up and launch of entrepreneurial projects.

FORGE is leading the charge with programs and events for entrepreneurially minded students, robust outreach to big thinkers across campus and beyond, and a visionary alum driving potent business collaborations.

Tools toward that end include Venturing 101, which provides short courses on launching a business venture. There’s also the Biomedical Entrepreneur Startup Scholarship and Residency, which assists with health related student venture ideas, and Native FORGE, a five year project to boost Native American startups in Arizona.

FORGE now has a half-dozen locations in Phoenix and Southern Arizona, anchoring a network of mentors from a broad variety of industries. Those mentors-in-residence currently range from general management and tech executive Shefali Patel and real estate expert and restaurant investor Rashaad Whittington to Brian Ellison, founder of the business consulting group Preston-Douglas. In addition, new participants in the FORGE Ahead accelerator program include sports-psychology coaching and education company MindReady.

Brian Ellerman ’00 ’21 brings a background as an angel investor that makes him a perfect fit as FORGE’s founding executive director. He says his goal is to foster the entrepreneurial mindset in its very early stages. Step 1: piercing preconceived notions. “You say ‘entrepreneur’ to most people, and they think ‘founder’ and all that comes along with that. But with a group of students, you ask how many of them have a side hustle, and nearly every hand goes up. They’re making T-shirts or working side jobs. Why do they see that as different from planning to start a company?”

In other words, more students than ever before innately grasp the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.

“We help them understand that being entrepreneurially minded has to do with critical thinking, problem solving and psychological resilience,” Ellerman says.

No matter where you go on campus, innovative ideas — and the potential impact of those ideas — are percolating.

“This is how you begin to grow the economic and societal value of what the university does,” Cantwell says. “You work with regions and communities. You elevate them and make them stronger, which in turn empowers students who are going to come to our university and bring their own creative ideas.”

Now that’s a revolution to believe in.

Read the full article here.