Inside Arizona Incubators and Accelerators

Join us for an enlightening discussion on maximizing your potential with in-state incubators, featuring an esteemed panel from across the state of Arizona. Panelists include Anita Bell from the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI), Tom Schumann from the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) and Russ Yelton from Yelton and Associates. Discover how these incubators serve as fertile grounds for growth and innovation, providing invaluable support, mentorship, and resources tailored specifically to the needs of budding life science startups. Learn how strategically positioning your company within these incubators can facilitate access to crucial networks, funding opportunities, and specialized expertise.


This AZBioPEERS session was recorded April 23, 2024.

About Our Panel:

Russ Yelton, President of Yelton and Associates

Russ Yelton served as Chairman of the AZBio Board of Directors from January 2015 to December 2017.  He has been an active board member since being elected in 2009 and currently serves on AZBio’s Executive Committee.

He is currently president of Yelton and Associates.  The firm provides economic development services as well as early stage business solutions. Yelton and Associates has experience both domestically and internationally and has assisted thousands of entrepreneurs to raise funding and bring their products to a variety of markets. The firm  also has a long history of assisting municipalities with the development of co-w0rk, incubators and accelerators as well as loan funds, student focused entrepreneurial programming as well as shared facilities.

Yelton was President and CEO of the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology   located in Flagstaff.  NACET is a business incubation program that assists companies with commercializing their technologies in both domestic and international markets.  NACET is supported by the City of Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University where it functions as the Technology Transfer Office for NAU.  Clients in NACET’s program received individual business consulting, access to mentors, venture and angel capital and domestic and international student research teams.

Prior to coming to Arizona in 2009, Yelton oversaw the creation of a business incubation program in Asheville, North Carolina in an abandoned 141,000 sq feet former BASF manufacturing plant.  That program, located at a community college, included a commercial food kitchen, biotechnology space with wet, dry and core laboratories, light manufacturing and executive offices.

Anita Bell, Director of University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI)

Anita Bell has been involved with the University of Arizona and Tucson’s startup incubator network for over fifteen years with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into successful companies.  In her role at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, she executes on strategy, manages daily operations, directs client services, develops and implements programs, mentors companies, and supports fundraising efforts.

Anita is passionate about mentoring entrepreneurs and growing scalable startup and emerging technology companies that fuel the Arizona economy. During her professional career, Anita has directly assisted over 100 early-stage startups in technology and life sciences. She is actively involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and organizes several signature events that benefit university, community and international startups. Anita follows the motto “it takes a village to raise a company” and cultivates relationships with and within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Her collaborative spirit has helped shape a regional network that benefits startups.

Anita is a life-long learner with focus on incubation and commercialization.  She holds the Entrepreneurship Center Management Certificate and the Rural Incubation Lite Certificate from the International National Business Incubation Association (InBIA). Anita is a graduate of the Greater Tucson Leadership program and received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Management Emphasis from Northern Arizona University.

Tom Schumann, Executive Director of Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI)

Thomas is an experienced business counselor providing financial and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses across a variety of industries and stages of development. Tom uses his background in economics, accounting and finance to help growing companies secure the financial resources required for growth through private investment and commercial and non-traditional lending.

His educational background includes degrees in accounting and economics, an MBA, a doctoral candidate in Computer and Information Systems. He holds certifications as an SBA commercial loan underwriter and an INBIA Certification in Business Incubation Management, and he is a certified trainer in the Profit Mastery and Growth Wheel programs.

At the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI), Thomas leads a state-of-the-art, award-winning business incubator that focuses on the commercialization of bioscience and medical device technologies emerging from Arizona’s higher education community. CEI is expanding its mission by launching LabForce, state-wide workforce training initiative focused on developing the skills and talent required by the Arizona bioscience industry.

Thomas came to CEI after a 25 year career in Michigan universities where he held a variety of leadership positions and spearheaded multiple state-wide outreach initiatives to support businesses and entrepreneurs, such as the Inventors Center of Michigan, the Michigan Manufacturing Resource and Productivity Center and the Michigan Business Incubation Association. Throughout his career, Tom has been at the forefront of technology use in education. He was recognized by the Michigan legislature as “Michigan’s E-Learning Pioneer”.

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Posted in AZBio News.