Startup Tucson to Give $65,000 in Prizes to Small Businesses, Artisans

In the place of TENWEST Impact Festival this year, Startup Tucson has reimagined IdeaFunding– Southern Arizona’s largest entrepreneurial conference — as a day-long event to celebrate the resiliency of small businesses and new business starts by giving away over $65,000 in cash and prizes on April 15th.

In addition to startups, they will be adding new categories for main street small businesses, and artisans, crafts and makers.  IdeaFunding will include  Southern Arizona’s largest Pitch Competition, which received applications from 80 startups this year.  The grand prize is $10,000 cash presented by UA Venture Capital and a free year of incubation at University of Arizona Center for Innovation. New this year are the “Community Resiliency Prizes” which will be recognizing “exceptional innovation, grit, creativity, and impact in the face of extraordinary challenges.” that have been displayed by Tucson’s small businesses.  

Specific prizes will honor visionary leaders, behind-the-scenes heros and innovation engines for both brick-and-mortar as well as creative makers and artisans. The community will be invited to nominate the small businesses and small business leaders that are crucial to Tucson.

Nominations for these $1,500 cash prizes will be open until March 14.

Finally, Startup Tucson will also be awarding $500 cash prizes to creatives such as musicians, comedians, poets and mixologists as part of a series of battles, celebrating the talented creatives that are essential to Tucson’s distinctive culture, and who have been especially hard hit by COVID-19. The Arizona Commerce Authority has committed to serving as the event’s title sponsor, demonstrating a significant investment in Southern Arizona’s business community. 

Other key sponsors and supporters include the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and Pima Community College. 

“While we were sad to have to reschedule TENWEST Impact Festival once again, we could see no greater impact than we can have on our community right now than helping and celebrating the small businesses who have been going above and beyond to keep our community safe, employed and vibrant,” said Dre Thompson, EVP Startup Tucson. “This event is already generating a ton of buzz and support from partners because it is laser-focused on

telling positive stories emerging from this difficult experience. Businesses need that dose of encouragement right now more than ever and entrepreneurs seeking to start new ideas in a time of change should be celebrated.” 

Tickets are free to the community but you must register at 

IdeaFunding is part of a statewide initiative called Startup Together AZ to support Arizona entrepreneurship throughout the entire month of April.

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. More information about the organization and upcoming opportunities to engage is available at For questions or comments, please reach out to Dre Thompson directly at

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