BizTucson Winter 2024 Arizona Technology Council

Page 1




Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 65

66 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 67

68 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024


Arizona Technology Council The Voice and Face of Arizona’s Tech Industry By April Bourie

On its website, Arizona Technology Council is defined as “Arizona’s premier networking and trade association for science and technology companies.” Steven G. Zylstra, the council’s president and CEO, explains it a little differently: “We really are the voice and the face of the technology industry in Arizona.” Carol Stewart, VP of Tech Parks Arizona at The University of Arizona, offers another definition of the organization and its importance. “The Arizona Technology Council serves as the catalyst propelling business forward, providing industry insights, invaluable resources, and unparalleled growth opportunities. Together, we advance technology to the leading edge, fostering groundbreaking inventions that make a colossal impact on the world stage.” continued on page 70 >>>

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 69

continued from page 69

Steven G. Zylstra President & CEO Arizona Technology Council

Karla Morales VP Southern Arizona Regional Office Arizona Technology Council

The council lives up to all these descriptions by offering its members more than 100 networking and educational events each year as well as a variety of valuable benefits. In addition, the organization works with public policy leaders in the state and federal government to further the interests of the technology industry’s many businesses, which range from small startups to large national and international corporate firms. It also works in schools to promote and advocate for STEM programs to develop the next generation of technology employees and innovators. The council’s programs are managed out of two offices—one in Phoenix and one in Tucson called the Southern Arizona Regional Office. Much of the impressive work is done through the council’s 13 standing committees, staffed by council members who address every aspect of the technology industry. More than 750 companies are members of the council, ranging in size from early-stage startups to larger corporations. “Approximately 80% of our membership consists of small businesses that have less than 50 employees,” said Karla Morales, VP of the Southern Arizona Regional Office. The other 20% are companies well-known to Arizonans, including Raytheon, Intel and Honeywell. The benefits the council offers are very valuable to all members, especially the smaller businesses. Member benefits include discounts for business services from various preferred partners, access to a health care and 401(k) plan for member employees, a technology jobs board and a tuition reduction plan at the UArizona, which is open to member employees and their children. Publications and podcasts produced by the council help keep its membership informed on industry trends and public policy, and the organization also plans 100 to 150 networking and educational events each year. Politically, the council is also very active, with the goal of supporting public policies friendly to the technology industry. Its Public Policy Committee creates a Public Policy Guide each year that includes issues important to the technology sector. Topics can range from workforce development and education to diversity, equity and inclusion to taxation and financial technology. The Public Policy Committee works to inform and educate state politicians about issues that impact the technology and manufacturing sectors. “Members of this committee develop a relationship with legislators from the moment they take office to help them understand why certain policies are important and how they impact the technology sector,” explained Morales. The council also hires lobbyists that work on behalf of the council, and Zylstra often writes opinion pieces on politically driven issues to communicate to the members and public about policies that affect the technology industry. “A lot of our greatest achievements have been at the state Legislature,” he said. No matter the company’s size, workforce development is always an important issue. The council helps develop highquality, tech-literate employees through its Foundation the continued on page 72 >>>

70 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024


Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 71

BizTECHNOLOGY Premier Partnership Arizona Technology Council, Arizona Commerce Authority Boost Technology Innovators Together By April Bourie The Arizona Technology Council works very closely with the Arizona Commerce Authority on several initiatives that have resulted in strengthening the technology sector in the state. “It’s a very strategic relationship between the two organizations,” said Steven G. Zylstra, council president and CEO. “The Arizona Commerce Authority is involved in attracting and growing companies in our state, and we help those in the technology industry here innovate and grow.” “The ACA’s role is to continue to advance the state’s economy and job growth,” said Sandra Watson, ACA president and CEO. “We work with the Arizona Technology Council to grow business in emerging technology areas such as aerospace, renewable energy and cybersecurity, and we are focusing more heavily on artificial intelligence. The area we partner the most with AZTC focuses on growing Arizona-based technology businesses, bringing together thought leaders in the industry and advocating for policies that create economic growth in the technology sector.” According to Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office, the ACA supports or promotes 60% of AZTC’s more than 100 yearly events. One of these is the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation, which recognizes innovators and technology leaders who are making a difference across the state. “This year is the 20th anniversary of this celebration,” Watson said. “It is an incredible opportunity to showcase how innovators are at the forefront of new technologies in our state, and we hope to partner with AZTC for another 20 years on this celebration.” Another important partnership between the two is the SciTech Institute, which includes the Chief Science Officer program and the Arizona SciTech Festival, a statewide celebration of STEM that brings academia together with more than 800 industry, arts, civic and community organizations to promote interest and success in STEM fields. The festival is the third largest in the nation and includes over 2,000 expos, workshops, conversations, exhibits, and tours held in more than 80 diverse neighborhoods in the state. “Talent is our No. 1 driver of growth,” Watson said. “We are very focused on meeting the needs of the tech industry now and in the future. I believe this joint effort has really transformed Arizona’s STEM talent, and it’s incredibly important and vital to supporting the future growth of the industry.”


72 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

The Arizona Technology Council serves as the catalyst propelling business forward, providing industry insights, invaluable resources, and unparalleled growth opportunities.

– Carol Stewart VP Tech Parks Arizona The University of Arizona

continued from page 70 SciTech Institute, a collaboration of the council, Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Board of Regents, Arizona State University, and UArizona. This foundation attracts grants, resources and support from in- and out-ofstate organizations to create STEM programs for Arizona’s students. SciTech’s Chief Science Officer program provides leadership training and allows students to plan STEM engagement opportunities for their peers. The program also engages technology companies to network and mentor the CSOs to help prepare them for careers in a technology field. “CSOs are taught how to advocate for the student voices in the community,” said Morales. “They also receive training and even compete on a local, state, national and international level. This helps them to be prepared for college and for work beyond that.” In the future, Zylstra would like to see the organization increase its membership to 1,000 companies as technology and manufacturing grows in Arizona. “We’ll continue to change our offerings as the market conditions change to provide the appropriate support necessary for our member companies,” he said. “We exist for one reason: to help our members succeed in what they do.”


Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 73


The Technology Connector Inclusive Committees, 100-Plus Events Invigorate State Tech Industry By Tiffany Kjos Tucson has proven to be a hospitable host for a key statewide organization that helps boost Arizona’s multibilliondollar technology industry, with nearly 500 people attending one of its biggest event, the Southern Arizona Tech and Business Expo. And that’s only the starting point. In July, the Arizona Technology Council held another of its major gatherings—the Aerospace, Aviation, Defense and Manufacturing Conference—for the first time at The University of Arizona, with grand results: more than 200 people attended. “We had a record turnout. Because of that, we will do that again in Tucson,” said Steven G. Zylstra, council president and CEO. Another of the technology council’s biggest efforts, the MedTech Conference, will be coming to Tucson for the first time in 2024. “There’s something about events. After you do them for a while and they start feeling like the last one you went to, you have to change them up. So, changing the venue changes everything,” Zylstra said. The council, which celebrated its 20th year anniversary in 2022, includes more than 750 companies, government agencies, nonprofit groups, technolo74 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

The Arizona Technology Council and its staff exist to break down barriers, help educate and inform and help people connect.

– Steven G. Zylstra President & CEO Arizona Technology Council

gy-focused vendors and educational institutions. It features 13 committees: two regional ambassador groups and 11 others that focus on specific sectors ranging from artificial intelligence to workforce development and education. In turn, the committees, supported by council directors of events and operations Jamie Neilson in Tucson and Darryle Emerson in Phoenix, organize more than 100 gatherings every year, with onsite events equally split between Tucson and Phoenix. “Southern Arizona is buzzing with excitement as its economy experiences a major boost, thanks to the collaboration between local organizations and leaders,” said Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office. “Together they’re sparking a fantastic transformation in the region. What’s cool about this growth is how it embraces eco-friendly practices and rich cultural experiences. It’s drawing in a diverse group of people who want to live sustainably and enjoy an intellectually stimulating environment.” Attendance at events varies, depending on the type, style, location and focus, Morales said. The council’s After5 Mixers have an average of 75 to 100 attendees while its webinar-style Tech

Speakers series draws an average of 50. “The Arizona Technology Council and its staff exist to break down barriers, help educate and inform, and help people connect,” Zylstra said. Toward that end, the council encourages everyone, not just members, to attend. The Tech and Business Expo at the Tucson Convention Center proved a success in that way: “Probably 40 to 50% of the people there were non-members coming to the events to see if they want to be members,” he said. The committees are inclusive, too. “Eligibility for committee membership is open to all our members, regardless of their roles or levels within (an) organization,” Morales said. “Employees have the flexibility to choose and join committees based on their interests and expertise … All of AZTC’s member companies are encouraged to promote employee committee participation.” Each council committee meets bimonthly, monthly or quarterly, with the opportunity for members to show up remotely. “The virtual component provides statewide accessibility for any and all committees. Some are location-focused while others are statewide. The Tech Inclusion Forum focuses on addressing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) issues and initiatives in Phoenix while Women in the Workforce is specifically focused in Southern Arizona,” Morales said. Committee membership helps peers, experts and influencers expand their professional networks; sharpen leadership, teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills; and enhance their professional development, Morales said. That’s a big deal for an industry that has more than 213,000 jobs in Arizona. “Active committee involvement can elevate members’ profiles within the technology community, potentially opening doors to new opportunities,” she said. “Ultimately, committee membership is a two-way street. Members contribute their time, expertise and energy and in return they gain a wealth of experiences, knowledge and connections that can significantly enrich their professional lives.”


Optics Valley Team Photo

2022 Governor’s Celebration of Innovation: Steven Zylstra, and Karla Morales with a representative from Sylvan Source, our 2022 Innovator of the Year Small Company

Steven Zylstra, Michael Patterson, Saida Florexil and Aakriti Gupta of Imanyco, 2022 Innovator of the Year Startup Company and Sandra Watson, President & CEO, Arizona Commerce Authority Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 75


Power Players Arizona Technology Council’s Members Are Tops in Industry, Training By Tara Kirkpatrick Members of the Arizona Technology Council are perhaps the greatest ambassadors of its success as the premier trade association advancing technology synergy across the state. From The University of Arizona and Pima Community College to kingpin companies such as Raytheon and Caterpillar with a strong regional presence, these members trust the council for events and pro-technology advocacy that offer connection and collaboration, foster relationships to propel the technology industry forward and catalyze innovation for global impact. “At Tech Parks Arizona, we recognize the immense value of being a member of the Arizona Tech Council,” said Carol Stewart, VP of UArizona’s Tech Parks 76 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

Arizona. “Through the council, we join forces with like-minded innovators and technology-focused business leaders, creating a robust tech ecosystem that has elevated Arizona to a preferred global innovation hub. Ian Roark, PCC’s vice chancellor of workforce development and innovation, said of the council: “Part of our mission is to meet the workforce development needs of business and industry here. It’s just a great organization for connecting with lots of companies at one time. It helps us get better connected to employers we may not otherwise have the opportunity to work with.” A look at some of the members of the Arizona Technology Council:

Caterpillar With sales and revenues of $59.4 billion (2022), Caterpillar Inc. is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, off-highway diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. In 2016, the company chose Southern Arizona for its Surface, Mining & Technology Division headquarters, bringing an estimated $600 million impact and 600 new jobs to the region and strengthening its footprint here, which was already home to its 6,500-acre Tucson Proving Ground.

Edmund Optics A premier provider of optical and imaging components, Edmund Optics chose Tucson in 2021 for its Advanced Design and Assembly Facility–its second location in Arizona. Its state-ofthe-art facility covering more than 21,000 square feet supports advanced design efforts and high-volume manufacturing services, including cleanroom assembly and incoming inspection with numerous testing capabilities such as modulation transfer function, stray light, thermal cycle, shock and vibration. Edmund Optics CEO Robert Edmund said the move would “allow Edmund Optics to build a larger collaborative partnership with Arizona Optics Initiative and the Arizona Technology Council. It solidifies our commitment to Tucson and AZTC Optics Valley initiatives.”


Hexagon With its beautiful new hub in Downtown Tucson, Hexagon’s Mining Division employs 140 people. The company solves surface and underground challenges with proven technologies for planning, operations and safety. Hexagon Mining helps to connect all parts of a mine with technologies that make sense of data in real time. Earlier this year, this division received the EcoVadis gold sustainability rating, putting the global leader in mining technology for planning, operations and safety in the top third percentile of those assessed.

IBM IBM Tucson employs 2,000 people and develops all of IBM’s storage products. The facility includes employees from its Systems and Technology Group, Software Group, and Global Services. IBM Tucson is home to one of two IBM TotalStorage briefing centers in the Americas, and IBM is the managing operator for the site’s UA Tech Park.

continued on page 78 >>>

Calline Sanchez IBM VP TLS Offerings & Service Planning, AZ & NM State Executive Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 77

continued from page 77 Leonardo Electronics Leonardo Electronics—which provides defense, security, medical and industrial products—built a $100-million, stateof-the-art semiconductor laser manufacturing facility on 13 acres at Innovation Park in Oro Valley in 2021. The one-story, 120,000-square-foot building includes manufacturing, assembly, testing, research and development, administrative and office space. Leonardo’s approximately 170 jobs comprise engineering, production, quality control, IT, HR, marketing, business development, purchasing and finance.

Wes Kremer Raytheon President & CEO

Raytheon The region’s top private employer with 13,000 workers, Raytheon, an RTX business, produces a broad portfolio of advanced technologies, including air and missile defense systems, precision weapons, radars, and command and control systems. With a legacy of more than 70 years here, the company’s economic impact in Arizona tops $2.6 billion. As President and CEO Wes Kremer told BizTucson in 2022, “We’ve created a hub of technology right here in our backyard of Tucson.” During the Council’s 20th annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation in 2023, Kremer was awarded the People’s Choice AccountabilIT Lifetime Achievement Award.

University of Arizona Office of Research, Innovation & Impact Overseeing an ambitious engine that includes Tech Parks Arizona, Tech Launch Arizona and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, UArizona’s Office of Research, Innovation & Impact helms more than $824 million in research activity. UA Tech Park recently celebrated 25 years of success and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation marked 20 years here, with an annual economic output of $35.3 million. 78 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024


Pima Community College Consistently named one of the top college employers in Arizona, Pima Community College is dedicated to producing a skilled workforce for the region’s industries. With a full-time enrollment of 6,238 and part-time enrollment of 23,762, the school has focused on creating Centers of Excellence and over the past five years has welcomed an Advanced Manufacturing Building, an Automotive and Technology Center and an expanded Aviation Technology Center.


Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 79


Applied Energetics Delivers advanced laser and photonics systems incorporating fiberbased, ultrashort pulse technology for commercial and national security markets.

BlackBar Engineering Specializes in autonomous vehicles, tactical tools and equipment, and offers solutions in engineering design, systems integration, rapid prototyping, additive manufacturing, and testing and analysis.

Darling Geomatics Award-winning company that provides drone and ground-based mapping and surveying, 3D laser scanning, 3D modeling and thermography.

Delta Development Leader in designing and manufacturing cooling and heating systems for extreme environments to help the military, first responders and medical applications.

4D Technology Develops metrology products to assure the quality of telescope projects both on land and in space with NASA being an early customer.

Freefall Aerospace Founded in 2016 as a University of Arizona spin-off, the company develops antenna technology for space and land applications to fill critical gaps in communications infrastructure.

continued on page 82 >>> 80 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

Good Optics Arizona Technology Council’s Largest Committee Also Among its Brightest By Tiffany Kjos The world’s oldest optics cluster, Optics Valley, was founded right here in Arizona more than 30 years ago. Today, its reach spans the globe. Started as an independent organization, Optics Valley is now the Arizona Technology Council’s biggest committee, with more than 100 members. “The committee fosters innovation, research and development in the field of optics and photonics, bringing together industry, academia and research institutions to collaborate on cutting-edge technologies, promote economic growth and create a hub for the optics industry,” said

Karla Morales, VP of the council’s Southern Arizona Regional Office. Its efforts over the past five years have been fueled by funding from the Small Business Administration Regional Innovation Cluster, which led to a workforce development initiative that resulted in the resurrection of an optics technician training program at Pima Community College. Optics Valley also has strong relationships with many University of Arizona endeavors, including the BIO5 Institute, Tech Launch Arizona and the Wyant College of Optical Sciences.

Also notably, the group is a founding member of the Global Photonics Alliance, made up of more than 50 optics clusters. “This greatly aids our international presence and the export business of our member companies,” said Optics Valley committee chair John Dennis, president of Strategy1. And AZTC’s Optics Valley’s flagship program, Arizona Photonics Days, has been expanded to three days featuring presentations, company pitches and networking opportunities, with more than 200 local and international participants. The seventh annual event will be held Jan. 24-26 at the UA Tech Park.


Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 81

BizTECHNOLOGY continued from page 80

IR Labs Designs and produces more than 4,500 infrared detection and cryogenic systems for global clients in scientific research, astronomy and industry since 1967.

82 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

Paragon Space Development Corporation A company on the forefront of systems designed for extreme environments in sea, land, air and space, assisting every human space program of record since 1999.

Rincon Research Founded in 1983, the company conceives, analyzes, designs and implements software solutions for numerous government projects and agencies.

Winter 2024 > > > BizTucson 83

84 BizTucson < < < Winter 2024

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.