Mesa plans to open a business accelerator later this year to help technology start-ups become full-fledged, job-producing businesses.
The accelerator will be at the Arizona State University Polytechnic campus and next door to AzLabs, a Mesa-owned laboratory that focuses on defense and security research. The city expects to lure start-ups that can take advantage of the labs, equipment and the high-tech professionals surrounding it, said Shea Joachim, Mesa’s economic development project manager.
The city plans to lease 6,400 square feet in an ASU building across the street from the passenger terminal at the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. Mesa has a $72,000 budget to renovate space and conduct a year of programs. The city wants to create space for networking and create an environment where start-ups have access to experts in law, accounting, human resources and other specialties not related to core business functions.
“Businesses are starving for help,” Joachim said. “Every entrepreneur is not necessarily going to know the details of accounting or all the details supporting their business, so having a built-in network to help folks accomplish their tasks allows people to focus on building their business.”
Mesa anticipates joining AZ Core Labs, a consortium of equipment labs across Arizona that provides equipment for a fee to incubators, industry professionals and university researchers. That will let Mesa get the incubator started at a low cost while still providing access to scientific equipment as needed, he said.
Mesa will join several other cities in sponsoring a business incubator. They include a substantially larger incubator focusing on science and technology called Chandler Innovations, one that focuses on a variety of industries at Gateway Community College and a recently-approved medical device incubator in Peoria.
The city is modeling this accelerator on a similar one in North Carolina, which is next to a research lab. Joachim said Mesa will work to ensure its incubator isn’t just a clone of others in the Valley.
“I think each one of these facilities is different enough,” he said. “In no way do they compete. I think they complement each other.”
Mesa has wanted an incubator for several years, and is just now hammering out a deal with ASU and working on a management and operations plan.
Joachim said the city hasn’t identified a goal for how many start-ups it wants because each one could have widely different space requirements. Mesa wants the accelerator to have a reach well beyond the Gateway area by letting other start-ups join so they could take part in networking events or other programs the center will offer.
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