Startup Tucson One of Four in U.S. to Receive “Super Connector” Award

The U.S. Small Business Administration partnered with the National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market subcommittee to award $330,000 in prizes to the winners of the new Lab-to-Market Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition. 

Startup Tucson was one of only four national recipients to receive the award in the “Super Connector” category, for current efforts to successfully attract and/or support networks of underrepresented communities in the R&D innovation ecosystem. The award comes with a $10,000 prize.

“For Startup Tucson to be recognized as one of the top four connecters in the U.S. is no surprise to me. Tucson is now on the radar as a great place to start a company, thanks in large part to the efforts of Startup Tucson, the TENWEST Festival and partner organizations like The FORGE, UArizona and the Arizona Commerce Authority,” said Fletcher McCusker, board chair of Startup Tucson.

The L2M prize competition recognizes the most impactful organizations, programs and ideas that support the research and development innovation ecosystems, particularly those focused on underrepresented communities and pandemic responses. The competition’s goal is to encourage entrepreneurship and inclusive, sustainable growth by developing and commercializing technology to improve access to resources.

Startup Tucson has been recognized for its work in creating a more accessible and inclusive ecosystem through the Tucson Startup Ecosystem Guide, a free online resource for entrepreneurs, developed in partnership with the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. 

“SALC has been a proud partner with Startup Tucson since its inception to ensure that budding entrepreneurs, as well as existing ones, have the tools they need to grow and sustain their businesses,” said SALC President and CEO Ted Maxwell.

The award also recognized Startup Tucson’s leadership role in organizing the Tucson Innovation Partnership, “an open membership group dedicated to breaking down silos in the region’s economic development landscape, impactful local collaboration.”

TIP member Danny Knee of the Community Investment Corporation wrote in support of the Award that, “ Startup Tucson has repeatedly shown its passion for including underrepresented communities within the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem here in Tucson and Southern Arizona. 

“Startup Tucson is truly a dynamic Super Connector for our region. They attract the best business minds and talent to share their expertise and mentor local entrepreneurs. Their programming is top notch and dynamic. Their ongoing commitment to underserved populations within our community and the accessibility of their approach has made Startup Tucson the entry point for traditional and non-traditional Southern Arizona entrepreneurs alike,” Knee wrote.

“Both of these projects, the Ecosystem Guide and TIP, speak volumes about the level of collaboration and positive momentum that our innovation community has built over the past few years. As Startup Tucson, we are glad to play a role in it, but truly the spotlight belongs on the community as a whole as we have pulled together to support each other and entrepreneurs. We believe it is through this type of coordinated effort that we will be able to bounce back stronger in the months and years to come,” said Dre Thompson, Executive VP of Startup Tucson.

The project video is posted publicly:

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