International efforts at Tech Parks Arizona are being recognized from multiple organizations as University of Arizona’s east-side institution celebrates its 25th anniversary. Additionally, the UA’s Center for Innovation has been awarded a “Soft Landing” designation by the International Business Innovation Association to serve international companies.
“When organizations team up with Tech Parks and UACI, they can be assured that the work will be of high-quality and most likely high-profile,” said associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona Carol Stewart in a recent email. “Both these international recognitions, the UA Center for Innovation designation for Soft Landings from InBIA and the Economic Excellence awards from [International Economic Development Council], really highlight the caliber and dedication that we put into our business.”
This soft landing generally refers to serving companies from outside the region and assisting them starting up in a new environment by providing resources, education and connections to their new market. According to Stewart, UACI is looking at startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises that have traction in their own markets but are looking to expand their markets into the U.S.
UACI focuses on start-ups and emerging technology companies by providing an incubator space and other resources for companies. A major goal of the center is bringing together business leaders to its Global Advantage Program to attract investment in Southern Arizona on a global scale. The “Soft Landing” designation is a culmination of the incubator’s work since 2004 and also hopefully gives the center greater opportunity for Tucson by being recognized by InBIA as an authority.
“The program that we run is a one month program, where we bring a cohort of international startup companies physically to be there,” said UACI executive director Eric Smith. “For a lot of these companies, internationally, for them to enter the U.S. market is a fairly big milestone, it really opens up a lot of revenue opportunities for them… When they gain traction in their home countries and they're ready to make that leap [to enter the United States] they need support to make that happen.”
International companies that expand into domestic markets frequently have needs beyond the obvious brick and mortar, it runs the gamut of language and cultural training to everyday tasks such as obtaining someone’s driver’s license and setting up a bank account.
An individual company’s needs when entering the market can also be fairly niche, which is the case for one of UACI’s newest partners, Auxilium Technology Group.
“Our company works in the mining sector, as such, properly addressing a unique value proposition is complicated,” CEO Abraham Jalbout said in a recent email. “UACI has been instrumental in identifying new business opportunities and commercial strategies allowing our company to reach profitability in a more efficient way.”
International companies that the center works with complement local businesses, according to Smith.
“There is no downside in terms of them competing with our local companies,” Stewart said. “There's just the upside that we did from this little bump to our economy. But in addition to that, bringing these startups here actually represents opportunities for other businesses, because these startups need accounting … they need contract management, they need all the things that every other business needs.”
For Tucson’s entrepreneurs wanting to learn more about internationalization and technology the Center for Innovation is partnering with the Tri-National Entrepreneurship Triangle for a Virtual Summit on Nov. 2, 3, 4 and 6. The summit focuses on Canada, France and the United States with a focus on Arizona with several local groups also participating.