IdeaFunding Returns to TENWEST Impact Festival in 2023 to Showcase Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Applications Launch for Pitch Competition with over $70,000 in Prizes

July 24, 2023 (Tucson, Ariz.) – Applications for the 2023 IdeaFunding competition are live and startups can submit applications before August 28, 2023. IdeaFunding is Southern Arizona’s largest and longest entrepreneurial conference and pitch competition, where this year over $70,000 in prize funding will be awarded to Arizona companies. IdeaFunding is co-led by Startup Tucson and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and presented by the Arizona Commerce Authority. 


The Arizona Commerce Authority is the title sponsor for the festival and a key partner for IdeaFunding. This year’s
pitch competition will support startups with a wide variety of available prizes. The main-stage grand prize of $25,000 is sponsored by UA Venture Capital (UAVC). UAVC has been a long-standing partner of IdeaFunding. Main-stage first and second place prize holders will also receive a sponsored year in the UACI incubator program, a prize valued at $10,000. Additionally, there will be four vertical stages with prizes of $2,500 per stage, the Social Impact prize sponsored by United Way and the Adelante Arizona prize for diverse founders supported by Community Investment Corporation. Each comes with a $5,000 cash prize. Additional IdeaFunding supporters include the UArizona McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Arizona FORGE, the Thomas R. Brown Foundation among others.

IdeaFunding competition applications are open to early-stage Arizona companies. Companies that have less than $500,000 funds raised or received in the form of a loan/grant and fewer than 10 full-time employees qualify as early-stage companies for the competition. 

IdeaFunding will take place on November 9, 2023 during the 2023 TENWEST Impact Festival. TENWEST was founded in 2015 to celebrate the growing innovation, creative and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Southern Arizona. The festival showcases the connectivity between technology, entrepreneurship, creativity, culture and impact, uniting attendees to gain the knowledge and inspiration needed to innovate their careers and communities. Startup Tucson hosts the 2023 TENWEST Impact Festival and co-leads IdeaFunding in partnership with UACI.  

“IdeaFunding has been a pillar for the entrepreneurial community in Southern Arizona providing years of funding to numerous startups. We are thrilled to bring the pitch competition and TENWEST Festival together in celebration of the impact prior winners and the event have had on Tucson over the years,” said Liz Pocock, Startup Tucson, CEO.  

IdeaFunding participants complete robust pitch training in partnership with UACI benefiting from decades of expertise. UACI has served as an important collaborator throughout the decade of IdeaFunding and TENWEST events. Participants selected to move forward in the competition will have successfully navigating and progressing through multiple rounds, will have the opportunity to perfect their pitch with mentors and staff from UACI. “IdeaFunding is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in our community to not only win funds, but also connect with one another. Throughout the years of working with participants, we have seen a tremendous amount of talented entrepreneurs and look forward to providing mentorship, resources, and a collaborative community to help turn their innovative visions into tangible achievements,” said Eric Smith, Executive Director, UACI.  

Nominations are now also open for the IdeaFunding community awards. These awards recognize outstanding entrepreneurs and contributors to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. More information on Thomas R. Brown Outstanding Entrepreneur Award, Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Community Builder Award and criteria for nominees is available on the IdeaFunding website 

The community is encouraged apply for the pitch competition and to nominate community award recipients from now until August 28, 2023. 


About Startup  Tucson  

Startup Tucson is 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to transform our region’s economy through entrepreneurship and education. Startup Tucson executes this mission by providing education and culture building programs and events to grow a high-impact entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem. You can find information about the organization and upcoming opportunities to engage at For questions or comments, please reach out to Liz Pocock directly at 


About the UA Center for Innovation 

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) is a startup incubator network with outposts across the Southern Arizona region. For two decades, the program has directly served 235 companies, impacting thousands of entrepreneurs who have attracted $105.8M in capital. This is done by providing access to people, programming, and places that help entrepreneurs take their companies from idea to market. With the mission to fuel the Arizona economy, UACI works to help scale science and tech-based startups under the scope of Tech Parks Arizona creating university-based economic impact. Tech Parks Arizonadirects the UA Tech Park, the UA Tech Park at The Bridges and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation. The year 2023, marks the 20-year anniversary of UACI which is supported by the following sponsors: the University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation & Impact, The Boyer Company, WaFd Bank, Spencer Fane, The Town of Sahuarita, Optics Valley and the University of Arizona Eller College of Management McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.  

Posted in AZBio News.