IdeaFunding has played a significant role in the entrepreneurial landscape for over twenty-five years and is Southern Arizona’s largest and longest running pitch competition. Over the past two months, early-stage startup companies from all over Arizona have participated in several rounds of company pitch presentations at IdeaFunding, part of the TENWEST Impact Festival by Startup Tucson. IdeaFunding is co-led by the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and presented by the Arizona Commerce Authority.
A total of twenty-five Arizona-based startup companies have been selected as finalists, five of whom have been designated to compete on the main stage of IdeaFunding on November 9, 2023. Startups that have advanced to the final phase of IdeaFunding will present their businesses in front of a live audience during the TENWEST Festival. By competing in two rounds of IdeaFunding, participants have completed robust training and polished their pitch through rigorous mentorship provided by UACI.
In the final round of IdeaFunding, twenty-five startups will be competing for a total of over $75,000 in prizes. Companies selected as finalists are divided into four vertical industry rooms; food, consumer products, technology and medical sciences, and software as a service (SAAS). All innovations showcased on the final stage come from Arizona including some inventions stemming from the University of Arizona. Finalists that will compete for $2,500 in cash prizes awarded in each industry vertical include:
- Big Red’s Hot Sauce
- Purple Tree Truck
- Tucson Tea
- 4D Block
- Eva’s Santa Hats
- LUNA SCRUBS
- West Major
Tech & Medical
- Beyond Silicon
- Fringe Metrology
- Macula Vision Systems
- TG RECYCLING
Software as a Service
- Breathe EV
- My Health Navigator App
Of the twenty-five finalists, five companies were selected to pitch on IdeaFunding’s mainstage competing for a grand prize of $25,000 and second place prize of $5,000 in cash, both also winning a year of incubation programming and space at UACI valued at an additional $10,000.
The five main stage finalists include:
1. Berry Cultured
Berry Cultured is a lifestyle kids brand where culture and play are celebrated. Berry Cultured celebrates diversity in all shades and strives to preserve childhood wonder through cultural play. The startup offers beautiful, high-quality exclusive products ranging from gifts, crafts, toys, party supplies and stationery. Berry Cultured provides a world of imagination to delight and empower kids as they learn the beauty of who they are, the enchantment of unity and love through culture.
2. BioBolt Medical
BioBolt Medical introduces a breakthrough technology that allows surgeons to perform procedures with greater speed, efficiency, and precision. The startup is focused on developing a product that can pierce, manipulate, and fix all meshes and tissues with the speed of a stapler and the strength of a suture. BioBolt’s unique and patented deployment system works for all mesh types, enabling surgeons to utilize biologic meshes more often, improving patient outcomes and reducing surgical time.
3. Carbon Utility
Carbon Utility has created a scalable and modular grid-based Direct Air Capture system and partners with commercial customers to lower their carbon footprint to meet reduction goals. Global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions are reaching new highs at the same time that consumers demand brands to focus on sustainability, Carbon Utility reuses CO2 captured from the air to create low-carbon products. The products (1) replace fossil fuel sourced CO2 used in food & beverage production, (2) enhance food security and production with commercial greenhouse CO2 supplementation, and (3) displaces fossil fuels by creating neutral transportation fuels using only air and water.
4. Cocktail Lab AZ (Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea)
Cocktail Lab AZ creates and shares cocktail experiences via educational seminars, group activities, catering and craft drink mixers. The startup’s flagship product, Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea, is a light, refreshing, carbonated hard tea. Ray Ray’s fills a space in the market that isn’t beer or a cocktail and celebrates the Sonoran Desert by including regional flavors in its tea. Better for you and the environment, Ray Ray’s is low calorie, low ABV, naturally gluten free and ready to drink, packaged in recycled aluminum and compostable six-pack rings.
5. The Earnest House
The Earnest House is a transitional living program, housing individuals after incarceration, treatment and/or homelessness. The company provides safe, sober homes and resources to address the housing gap for individuals returning to society. The Earnest House aims to be the bridge clients need to progress toward their life goals and creates distance from what holds them back by providing the following resources: 24-hour on-site staff, job lead assistance, help obtaining medical coverage and food stamps, transportation, and personal hygiene items as needed.
Companies selected to advance as finalists were selected based on merit by local community leaders who served as unbiased judges. The judges include:
- Gina Catalano, Founder, Venture Solutions
- Andrew More, Director, BlueStone Venture Partners
- Andre Whittington, Chief Executive Officer, Growth Partners Arizona
Tucson is invited to watch the finalists pitch their businesses on November 9, 2023 as part of IdeaFunding 2023, which is day six of TENWEST. IdeaFunding is supported by Arizona Commerce Authority, Pima Community College, Cox, Community Investment Corporation, UA Venture Capital, Rio Nuevo, UA McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Growth Partners Arizona, Hexagon, City of Tucson Economic Initiatives, Thomas R. Brown Foundations, United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, Hecker Pew PLLC, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, FORGE, Pima County Economic Development, Osborn Maledon, Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona, Flinn Foundation, Desert Angels, and Town of Oro Valley.
For more information and to purchase tickets to attend TENWEST and IdeaFunding visit: www.tenwest.com.
About Startup Tucson
Startup Tucson is 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to transform our region’s economy through entrepreneurship and education. Startup Tucson executes this mission by providing education and culture building programs and events to grow a high-impact entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem. You can find information about the organization and upcoming opportunities to engage at www.startuptucson.com. For questions or comments, please reach out to Liz Pocock directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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. For two decades, the program has directly served 235 companies, impacting thousands of entrepreneurs who have attracted $105.8M in capital. This is done by providing access to people, programming, and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. With the mission to fuel the Arizona economy, UACI works to help scale science and tech-based startups under the scope of Tech Parks Arizona creating university-based economic impact. Tech Parks Arizona directs the UA Tech Park, the UA Tech Park at The Bridges and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation. The year 2023, marks the 20-year anniversary of UACI which is supported by the following sponsors: Spencer Fane, the University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation & Impact, The Boyer Company, Arizona Cine Equipment, Startup Tucson, Caliber Group , the University of Arizona Eller College of Management McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Optics Valley, Perkins Coie, the Town of Sahuarita, the University of Arizona BIO5 Institute, Washington Federal Bank, the City of Tucson, Community Investment Corporation – Tucson, Pima County Economic Development and Southwest Solutions.