Tech Launch Arizona Kicks Off Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program

Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) recently launched the newly developed Student Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program. The fellows comprise a team of four qualified candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds who are eager to make the most of this rare opportunity. Over the course of their employment with TLA they will work closely with the venture development team and gain valuable experience in the startup assessment and launch process.

Left to right: Ike Chinyere and Ken Wertman. Photo credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Left to right: Ike Chinyere and Ken Wertman. Photo credit: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona


TLA, the University of Arizona office that commercializes technologies developed through research, launches between 10 and 15 startups on average each year and continues to be a driving force for innovation and impact throughout the Southern Arizona community. The Entrepreneurial Fellowship program was created to leverage talent from UArizona’s diverse student body while providing each fellow with the invaluable opportunity to gain key industry insights and experience.

TLA’s Director of Venture Development, Bruce Burgress shared his excitement about the impact possible with a program of this kind.

“These students represent the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders, molding ideas and innovations with the needs of an ever-changing society to generate solutions and impact for the future,” he said. “We’re excited to have them as part of the TLA Venture Development team, helping our startups bring UArizona discoveries to the world.”

The four fellows, each of whom come from diverse academic backgrounds, have been paired with one of TLA’s Mentors-In-Residence (MIR) and will assist them with: assessment of early-stage technologies for commercial potential, customer discovery, development of business and financial models, and preparation for fund raising. They will also have the opportunity to develop their business communication and decision making skills while shadowing MIRs as they work closely with UArizona inventors and commercialization partners.

Over the course of the next few months we will be profiling each of our Entrepreneurial Fellows, dedicating each article to highlighting their background, areas of interest, and their respective MIR. Our first profile is below; look for our next one in April.

Ike Chinyere: A passion for healing, a drive for discovery

Ike Chinyere is a M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at the UArizona College of Medicine-Tucson, where he is focusing on cardiac electrophysiology. “My educational goal, “ he said, “is to care for patients in the community and also utilize my Ph.D. to perform groundbreaking research and bring new treatment to patients.”

Apart from a deep desire to advance medical research and practice within his field, Chinyere shares a passion for research commercialization that resonates with the TLA vision.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to learn about the technology transfer process since my future career will likely involve this practice,” he said. “Gaining insight from the UArizona faculty and Tech Launch Arizona team members who work hard to turn inventions into real-world solutions is a privilege and I am honored to be able to participate.”

He has been paired with Mentor-In-Residence Ken Wertman, Ph.D. Dr. Wertman’s background is in molecular and cellular biology and has decades of experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical startup industry. Since joining Tech Launch Arizona, he has made significant contributions to UArizona’s efforts to commercialize innovative pharmaceutical technologies.

“I’m just getting to know Ike and we’re diving in,” Dr. Wertman said, “but we’re off to a great start and I’m excited to bring his energy and talent to the table to add value to our startups.”

– written by Eddie San Juan, Tech Launch Arizona

Posted in AZBio News.