ASU Innovation Open
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ASU Innovation Open

The ASU Innovation Open is designed to fuel multidisciplinary teams of collegiate founders as they harness the power of entrepreneurship to tackle the world’s most challenging problems.

The Open values university-supported technologies and the scientists, artists, engineers, enterprisers, and designers who develop them.

The Open views collegiate entrepreneurs as elite athletes who must demonstrate perseverance, hustle, and teamwork to change the world.

But only one student-led enterprise can win it all – a $100,000.00 grand prize. Who will rise to the challenge?

The 2017 Open is powered by:



The 2017 Open is supported by:

Zero Mass
Hool Coury Law


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How the Open Works

The ASU Innovation Open welcomes all current university students hailing from all academic disciplines. The Open comprises four highly competitive phases and three judging rounds.

Eligibility screening period

All applicants must create a five minute video pitch and submit it via the ASU Open application portal. Applications for the 2017 ASU Open are no longer being accepted. Please check back soon for details about the 2018 ASU Open.

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Video pitch Q+A telephone conference
Judging Round #1

At this stage of the competition, all eligible competitors will be evaluated by entrepreneur evaluators and up to 25 Semi-Finalists will recommended for advancement within the competition.

As part of the initial application, all competitors must sign up for a video pitch Q+A telephone conference slot on Friday, January 27, 2017. All eligible applicants will be called at a selected time on this date to answer questions from a panel of evaluators about the submitted video pitch. Participation in this Q+A phone call about the submitted video pitch is required to advance to the subsequent stages of the Open.


VIP Experience for the 15 Semi-Finalists

Two co-founders from each of the 15 Semi-Finalists ventures will be invited to attend an optional VIP dinner hosted by Avnet at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, a local Five Diamond Resort, to help kick off the Phoenix Open pro golf tournament, "the greatest show on grass," and be recognized as top student innovators by Avnet's leadership team. Semi-Finalist co-founders will also receive complimentary passes to the Phoenix Open on Saturday, February 4, 2017.


VIP Pitch Playoffs for Semi-Finalists
Judging Round #2

At this stage of the competition, up to 15 Semi-Finalist competitors will be evaluated by a panel of VIP judges. These judges will select up to 5 Finalists to advance within the competition.

The VIP Pitch Playoffs for Semi-Finalists will take place at ASU SkySong in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, February 3, 2017. Semi-Finalist competitors may participate in this judging round remotely or in person.


VIP Experience for the 5 Finalists

Two co-founders from each of the 5 Finalist ventures will be invited to attend an optional VIP experience at the NCAA Final Four festivities in Phoenix on Saturday, April 1, 2017.


ASU Innovation Open Demo Day
Judging Round #3

At this stage of the competition, Finalist competitors will be evaluated by Title- and Co-Sponsor judges. These judges will select one $100K Grand Prize winner and several other ancillary prize winners. Finalists will pitch and winners will be selected and announced on Sunday, April 2, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. Finalist competitors must participate in this judging round in person. Travel and accommodation expenses for Finalists will be subsidized by the ASU Open - Zero Mass Water Awards.


Come Cheer On our Final Four Entrepreneurial Athletes

The ASU Innovation Open – Final Four Demo Day

Hosted by Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Who: Over 200 entrepreneurial community leaders from Arizona, California, Colorado, and the Southwest are expected to attend.
What: A keynote address will be provided by Eric Toone, the executive managing director of Breakthrough Energy Ventures. Mr. Toone has worked with Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and many other game-changing founders as a leading Venture Capitalist. Then, Four Finalist student venture founders will pitch their startups and be evaluated by Title- and Co-Sponsor judges. These judges will then select one $100K Grand Prize winner and recognize other ancillary prize winners. An award ceremony will conclude the event.
When: Sunday, April 2, 2017; 1:30 pm – in tandem with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four festivities, which are being hosted by ASU.
Where: ASU’s Beus Center for Law and Society – The Great Hall; 111 E Taylor St, Phoenix, AZ 85004 | Streaming live at ASUNow.

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Who Should Compete?

The ASU Innovation Open is designed to challenge and advance university student innovators who aim to develop technology- and impact-focused ventures. The Open provides critical venture mentorship and funding for student competitors who are launching a wide range of enterprises, including new hardware and software inventions, that advance innovation within a wide variety of cutting-edge marketplaces, including:

  • Hardware solutions, with a focus on Internet of Things (IoT), which may include physical products utilizing electronics (e.g., wireless devices, sensors, LED lighting, medical devices, robotics, etc.).
  • Software solutions, with a focus on data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, embedded IoT solutions, device management, etc.
  • Protected technologies, with a focus on graduate student-led spinouts that aim to commercialize University-managed intellectual property (IP - physical or life sciences).
  • Social enterprises, with a focus on Conscious Capitalism.
  • Mainstreet enterprises, with a focus on empowering underrepresented minority entrepreneurs at scale.

Competitor Eligibility

  • A majority of each venture's membership/equity must be currently enrolled in an accredited University undergraduate or graduate program at the time the ASU Innovation Open Demo Day event.
  • If students do not own at least 50% of the aggregate equity/membership interests, the Advisory Council will review competitor eligibility on a case-by-case basis.
  • Faculty Principal Investigators (PIs) who do not hold a concurrent student status will not be eligible to serve as competitors/applicants.
  • Participating ventures must meet the following criteria:
    • Have taken steps beyond ideation (e.g., market research, etc., prototype/ website development, etc.)
    • Have NOT obtained substantial funding from other sources (e.g., Angels, VCs;  to be determined by the Advisory Council, but generally over $100,000 in angel or V.C. funding is considered “substantial.”)
    • Have a high level of commitment to the venture (e.g., Teams should continue to seek funding elsewhere if they do not win at the ASU Innovation Open, with the intention to validate or launch.)
    • Demonstrate scalability (not localized)
    • Each student team must have the intent of at least attempting to pursue this business as a viable growing entity and not just as a “school project.”  
    • Have NOT formed “shell” companies for the purpose of applying for this competition, or other grants, etc.

Competitor Recommendations

  • Multi-disciplinary teams that have two or more co-founders have a higher probability of success within the Open, as compared to solo applicant founders.  
  • Teams should have a balance of individuals with technical expertise and business or startup experience related to the commercialization opportunity associated with the technology.
  • Regarding team formation, the Open is designed to:
    • Support new interdisciplinary startup management teams that form to create or commercialize technologies or novel innovations.
    • Possibly accommodate doctoral students, postdocs, and junior faculty as members of the startup management teams if they are interested in an entrepreneurial career trajectory, rather than a research trajectory.
    • Possibly accommodate PI’s as advisors to the management teams, or as minority (< 40%) equity holders on the management teams.


How to Apply

Open competitors are invited to submit an initial application in the form of a 5 minute video pitch, accompanied by required venture and team contact information.

Initial Application Process

  • Competitors must address application content prompts within a 5 minute video.
  • Video production and submission instructions may be found here.

Initial Application Content Prompts

  1. Introduce the problem or opportunity as described by actual users or consumers within a specific business, home, or institutional setting.
  2. Describe or demonstrate your novel solution with a focus on how the product or service works in 3 steps or less.
  3. Describe the competitive landscape and your competitive advantage. What similar solutions or status quo behaviors currently exist? Why will customers/ users choose your solution over other options? Is your solution protected or protectable via a patent, trademark, etc.?
  4. Describe your current or planned business model. Who pays for your solution, how much, how often, and where do these transactions occur? In other words, describe your first sale or a typical sale.
  5. Introduce your team and key mentors with a focus on their extraordinary accomplishments and/or unique ninja skills. Why is your team uniquely qualified to bring this product or service to market?

In general, applicant venture concepts should align with Avnet’s and ASU’s commitment to empowering innovators harness technology and scalable business models to improve the world. This parameter is not intended to be overly restrictive and the competition judges will consider any concept that can be remotely tied to the technology industry or high growth models.  

Initial Application Disclaimer

By submitting an application to the ASU Innovation Open, each applicant agrees to the following conditions:

  1. It is the applicant’s responsibility to protect any highly confidential or trade secret information. The legal protection of the concepts submitted by the applicants to the competition is otherwise the sole responsibility of the applicants.
  2. All decisions made by the judges on all matters relating to ASU Innovation Open will be final and not open to appeal or negotiation.
  3. The ASU Innovation Open Advisory Council reserves the right to interpret these rules, and to alter, amend or change them, at its discretion.
  4. In consideration for the time, expertise and other resources of the ASU Innovation Open organizers, partners, judges, mentors and advisors and each of their respective directors, officers, partners, employees, consultants and agents (collectively “Representatives”), each applicant voluntarily releases ASU Innovation Open and each Representative from any liabilities, responsibilities, and accountabilities relating to or arising out of such Representative's participation in the ASU Innovation Open.


Apply to the Open

Applications for the 2017 ASU Open are no longer being accepted. Please check back soon for details about the 2018 ASU Open.

Apply Now