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About Edson

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative provides funding, mentorship, and office space to teams of students within all university disciplines. This accelerator gives student entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their innovative ideas and launch viable businesses.  As an integral program of ASU's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, students in the Edson Initiative have access to seasoned entrepreneurs, industry mentors, and other Catalyst startup programs that enable them to advance their enterprises.

The Edson Initiative has undergone several significant upgrades within the past year. Expressly, Gordon McConnell, ASU Assistant Vice President for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venture Acceleration, has set a new vision for the accelerator by leveraging an expanded pool of industry-expert mentors and “pracademic” startup training resources. This reboot, coined “Edson 2.0,” has been designed to directly impact the Edson companies’ ability to successfully execute their business models, deliver valuable products or services, and most importantly, create local jobs. Tracy Lea, a Venture Manager within the ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group, has been charged with leading the new Edson Initiative.  You may learn more about the key aspects of the Edson accelerator by viewing the following video:


Giving ASU Students the Resources to Launch
Their Ideas and Make Them a Reality


The endowment provides a total of $200,000 annually in seed funding. Each year up to 20 ventures will be granted up to $20,000 to help subsidize expenses for developing their new venture. Money granted could be used for such things as market research, building a prototype, and legal fees to name a few.

Office Space

Funded ventures will be provided office space at SkySong, located in South Scottsdale, through their award year. The SkySong facility provides a professional setting for early stage entrepreneurs to develop their ventures and also to interact and learn from peer entrepreneurs, local, and international businesses.

Training and Coaching

Throughout the award year Edson companies participate in a series of workshops with guest speakers that include successful entrepreneurs and professionals with expertise useful to start-up businesses. Furthermore, each venture is provided ongoing entrepreneurial coaching by the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Group and the Edson mentor network.


In partnership with faculty, researchers and successful entrepreneurs from both the academic and private sectors, the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative connects teams, not only to those within ASU but with the community at large. Part of this includes matching each team with industry-specific mentors so that they can receive first hand advice from experts with background and knowledge respective to their venture and its developmental needs.
The scale of the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative—$200,000 per year—places ASU in the national forefront of student entrepreneurial support. Additionally, it leverages students’ talents in support of the University’s economic mission by directly contributing to the development of the regional economy.

The Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative has been made possible by an investment of $5.4 million from Orin Edson to the Arizona State University Foundation. A lifelong boater, Mr. Edson started a small company out of his garage that he eventually built into Bayliner Marine Corp., the world’s largest manufacturer of pleasure and luxury boats. Mr. Edson sold his interest in Bayliner to Brunswick Corporation in 1986.


1. To generate interest in building new ventures and entrepreneurship as a career path among ASU students.
2. To give ASU students the opportunity to acquire entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and perspective.
3. To link ASU student entrepreneurs with successful private sector entrepreneurs.
4. To increase the number of new companies and products brought to market by ASU students.
5. To accelerate new ventures intended to provide economic, social and/or financial returns.