Rick Shangraw: Chief Executive Officer, ASU Enterprise Partners




ASU Enterprise Partners was formed in 2016 and is the parent organization of five nonprofit subsidiaries comprised of nearly 200 employees: ASU Foundation, ASU Enterprise Collaboratory, ASURE, Skysong Innovations, and University Realty. ASU Enterprise Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission of identifying new resources and revenue-generating initiatives to advance Arizona State University by determining and aligning the motivations and aspirations of our investors with the university’s mission.
ASU Enterprise Partners’ innovative, shared-services model allows each of its subsidiaries to focus on facilitating Arizona State University’s mission of delivering academic excellence and accessibility as a public
research university.


Perspective on Innovation
In the early 1990s, Rick Shangraw was on his way to work in Northern Virginia, where he was the founder and CEO of one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the U.S., focusing on management and technology consulting.
Listening to the radio during his commute, Rick heard an advertisement from a local university looking for entrepreneurs who could offer advice on how to be more innovative. As a former professor at Syracuse University, his ears perked up. He thought, “I can take what I’ve learned in the private sector and my training in academia and help this university be more entrepreneurial and innovative.”
He scheduled a meeting and came equipped with ideas for the university. When Rick sat down, he quickly realized the consultation was actually a sales pitch for commercial real estate in the Northern Virginia area. This was his aha moment. Rick knew a university could have a greater impact on the economy and innovation if it did things in a different way. He soon decided to sell his company and make his mark in higher education.

Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.

Simon Sinek

Higher education is a game-changer. University faculty, staff, and students are working every day to solve problems that fundamentally impact all of our lives. They are curing diseases. Combating climate change. Educating the next generation of leaders.
Rick knew he could translate higher education from the classroom to the community. It was his connection to Arizona State University President Michael Crow — who Rick attended graduate school with at Syracuse University in New York and having Crow as chairman of the board of his company — that brought him to ASU.
“I resonated with his vision about what he was doing out here —ASU becoming entrepreneurial, innovative and creative.” After joining Crow at ASU in 2005, Rick has loved every minute of Crow’s style of entrepreneurial academia. He’s had several positions at ASU, including running the state university’s research and economic development enterprise and heading up global sustainability as well as ASU’s philanthropic foundation. By 2016, Rick led an initiative to create a 501(c)3 called ASU Enterprise Partners to generate new revenue to support the university. Rick was tapped to lead the nonprofit, which oversees five organizations: ASU Foundation, Skysong Innovations, ASURE, University Realty, and Enterprise Collaboratory at ASU.
At ASU Enterprise Partners, Rick is leading the charge to ensure and evolve higher education through entrepreneurship. He and his team have reimagined fundraising to create an entirely different resource raising model that turns ideas and new partnerships into real-world impact.
Through philanthropy, real estate, tech transfer, defense research and incubation, ASU Enterprise Partners raises resources to support ASU in bringing innovation directly to the market, to the local community, and to the world; producing real results.




Some highlights of ASU Enterprise Partner’s impact on our innovation ecosystem:

  • The economic impact of Skysong Innovation’s tech transfer model is projected to exceed $1 billion by 2022.
  • Last year, the ASU Foundation raised over $253 million and provided scholarships to 55,000 students in need.
  • ASU Research Enterprise, which conducts applied research for the defense industry, has partnered with Lockheed Martin to create affordable access to space globally within five years.
  • University Realty, which cultivates real estate to support ASU, is a major investor and co-developer of SkySong, a global innovation hub housing more than 62 growth companies.
  • Enterprise Collaboratory at ASU, an incubator for university initiatives, supports ASU projects in countries around the world, including China, Germany, Mexico, and Vietnam. But Rick believes there’s still more work to be done. Every day, faculty and students at ASU are innovating, creating and discovering. Together, they are improving the world.


Why Phoenix?
Phoenix is regularly lauded as one of the top cities in the country to launch a business or start your career, and for good reason. The Valley of the Sun has burgeoned into a hub for tech and entrepreneurship. If you examine the metrics that make a city truly thrive, Phoenix meets all the requirements: high population growth, job creation, business creation, and high-growth company density. Plus, you can’t beat the weather, the people, or the beautiful scenery.
The Future of Innovation
U.S. News and World Report ranks ASU as the most innovative university in the country. ASU will continue to be a global influencer in this space, but other universities must follow suit and become more entrepreneurial and agile in order to succeed.
Advice & Best Practices
• Have fun
• Be a great listener
• Take risks
• Do the work
• Remember: Chance favors only the prepared mind


Other INNOVATE® Ecosystems