Interview with Gordon McConnell of Arizona State University Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group


Gordon opens the conversation with ASU’s philosophy of “entrepreneurship is democratized,” wherein the culture of innovation spans all facets of the university, not just at the business school. The role of the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG) is taking this approach outside of academics to encourage an entrepreneurial climate in the community. Gordon talks about how EIG accomplishes this through two main programs:

  • Co-working spaces in collaboration with public libraries and mentors; and,
  • An accelerator program that forms teams around technologies to tap the potential of unused patents.

Gordon McConnellHe discusses his role as a mentor in one of the co-working spaces and describes the type of assistance most desired by entrepreneurs trying to start new companies. Typically, they seek feedback on ideas, ways to connect with the university and move their ideas forward, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. EIG’s co-working spaces have gained a great deal of traction and interest from other states and regions. A large part of their success can be attributed to the more than 300 community mentors who lend their time and expertise, Gordon said.

Additionally, he describes ASU’s Furnace program, which helps get technologies to market through a process of narrowing down commercially viable technologies and making them easily understood to entrepreneurs. Next steps for EIG include expanding the network of co-working spaces, adapting the Furnace model for two Department of Defense labs, and administering a new startup fund for early stage manufacturers.

About ASU Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group

ASU EIGASU’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group (EIG) has developed four innovative programs designed to bring together the Greater Phoenix entrepreneurial ecosystem, attract new partners, and create thriving startups inside and outside the university. EIG’s creative use of existing resources and strong public and private sector support serves as a promising model for entrepreneurial and technology commercialization initiatives throughout the country. A technology transfer accelerator, a co-working network embedded in the public library system, and a startup school taught by practitioners are among the programs offered by EIG.

About the Excellence in TBED Awards
SSTI’s Excellence in TBED Awards recognize exceptional achievement in addressing elements that have been found in successful tech-based economies. These include a research base that generates new knowledge, mechanisms for transferring knowledge into the marketplace, an entrepreneurial culture, sources of risk capital, and a technically skilled workforce. For more information visit:

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