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SPECIAL REPORT 2019

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THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

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Carol Stewart

Associate VP Tech Parks Arizona University of Arizona

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Tech Parks Arizona

Hub of Innovation for 25 Years $2 Billion Annual Economic Impact By Rhonda Bodfield

If you ask the casual observer to tell you something about the UA Tech Park at Rita Road two themes emerge: 1. It’s a large complex on the southeast side,

visible from the freeway.

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

2. There’s a bunch of smart people out there making good money.

What they may not know, however, is the kind of magic that bubbles and percolates and brews when smart, creative people have a chance to connect over imagination and innovation. What they also may not know is that the park contributes a staggering $2 billion to the state’s economy annually. Or that its 1,300 acres houses 45 companies and 6,000 knowledge workers who make an average annual wage of about $74,000. And what they almost certainly don’t know is that what they’ve known about the park for the last 25

years is in the midst of dramatic change – from its leaders to its geographic footprint and even its national profile among the roughly 200 tech parks in existence. “The entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Arizona is changing. It is really a new day at the Tech Parks,” said Carol Stewart, associate VP for Tech Parks Arizona. She is responsible for the established UA Tech Park at Rita Road and the developing UA Tech Park at the Bridges as well as elevating the UA Center for Innovation. “We are still a sandbox and a living lab – providing a proving ground for new technologies coming out of the university and industry. We’re really excited to be celebrating our 25 years of history. But we are even more excited about the future and how we can help shape this economy.” President Robert C. Robbins, now in his third year leading the University of Arizona, has prodded and continued on page 73 >>> Fall 2019

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Elizabeth Cantwell Senior VP Research & Innovation University of Arizona

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The accessible, state-of-the-art resources of the UA Tech Parks help both new businesses in early-stage development, as well as established companies, expand their product development capacities.

– Elizabeth Cantwell Senior VP, Research and Innovation University of Arizona

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

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challenged university leaders to seek out innovation. When he preaches the gospel of competing in an accelerated era of technological innovation, the UA Tech Park often follows in the next breath. “The UA Tech Park at Rita Road is where the Fourth Industrial Revolution plays out, especially for the University of Arizona as we aspire to translate fundamental discoveries from the convergence of digital, biological and physical sciences into commercializable products that make the world a better place,” Robbins said. Robbins himself was immersed in the culture of Stanford University for 20 years before moving to Texas to lead Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world and a frontrunner in life science advancements. The unshakeable belief that Robbins has transformative power lured Elizabeth Cantwell from her leadership post at Arizona State University to serve here in a newly created position as the senior VP overseeing the research and innovation function of the university. She was in the middle of a house renovation in Phoenix with no intention of leaving – but couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a difference, having fueled regional innovation ecosystems in other roles in other com-

munities. With the UA a research powerhouse, Cantwell’s very intentional role is to amplify the industry-sponsored research activities at the university while supporting the growing tech commercialization activities at the university. The UA Tech Park, she said, serves as a natural catalyst by moving inventions from within the university into the marketplace and providing companies – big and small – with an ideal place to develop, test and evaluate their products. She started in August, just as Stewart was hitting her eight-month stride. Cantwell, Stewart and Robbins are evangelists about innovation and bullish about the university’s potential to orchestrate an explosion around an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is rooted in technological advancement. “I try to share this message with every stakeholder, every student and every faculty member of the university – the only thing limiting us is our imagination,” Robbins said. “We can do anything here. We have the mindset and the resources to do it. It starts at a high level with the strategic plan and it filters down to deans, department heads, chairs, individual procontinued on page 74 >>> Fall 2019

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continued from page 73 Already, it’s one of the biggest fessors, students and the 600 clubs parks in the nation. The average we have.” research and tech park is about Stewart sees that vision play out 120 acres. The UA Tech Park at in real life every day. The park still Rita Road is approximately 1,300 has the original tenant in IBM, but acres. It’s an immense place that also has startup founders building includes a 223-acre Solar Zone, the future with technology such as and is engaging developers. ultrasound capacity into a mobile With only 3% vacancy, the park phone and technology that shortadded 60,000 square feet of repurens the life of cancer cells. posed space in September to ac“This kind of focus on innovacommodate more companies. Yet tion is going to be part of everyexpansion is coming in new ways thing we do moving forward – in too. part because Robbins is passionate The long-awaited park at The about it and elevates it, but also Bridges, encompassing 65 acres because that’s where grant and realong the Kino corridor, is poised search dollars are going,” Stewart to drive a different experience than said. its established and more remote “Innovation can be uncomfortcousin – just by sheer proximity to able because it’s change and it’s – Carol Stewart the university. disruptive. But people are talking Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona & Meanwhile, the incubator, Uniabout it every day from the top President, UA Center for Innovation versity of Arizona Center for Indown – and that’s a game-changnovation, is creating innovation er.” outposts in a network across the valley – including Sahuarita, The new leadership is shepherding a geographic expansion Vail and Oro Valley – capitalizing on synergies that exist alof innovation beyond the established park off of Rita Road ready in those areas. and I-10. continued on page 76 >>>

Innovation can be uncomfortable because it’s change and it’s disruptive. But people are talking about it every day from the top down – and that’s a game-changer.

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continued from page 74 Robbins isn’t stopping at regional boundaries either, noting he sees an opportunity for more collaboration with ASU, given the UA’s beachhead in its medical campus in Phoenix, and particularly around space, human health, infrastructure and data management. “Those are the sweet spots where we can legitimately compete globally to make Arizona the future state of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Robbins said. The goal of this diverse mix is to ensure companies looking for a landing space will have options to self-select into the space that works best for them. Maybe they’re professors who need to know how to draft a business plan. Maybe they’ve graduated from incubation and are ready to start scaling up. Maybe they’re an established company looking for interns to test drive as permanent hires. They all have a home. That kind of spread and diversity will help move the region along the innovation spectrum, said Stewart, who was the founding director of the research

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and tech park associated with the University of Waterloo in Canada. “When it comes to developing a continuum and ecosystem for startups and entrepreneurs, Tucson is at a stage similar to the Waterloo environment before it hit its boom,” she said. “There is an organic way these things grow – and it’s typically a 10-year process. But we are putting the right energies and resources in place so we can leapfrog that organic process by at least five years and really shortcut our path to success.” Financing has been a gap. Local businessman Fletcher McCusker stepped into the void to launch new venture capital funds as the co-founder of UAVenture Capital. Another gap: Student startup culture campus-wide – not just in specific colleges. “You need students to be excited about starting their own business,” Stewart said. “It has to be the sexiest thing on campus.” Programs matter. Geography matters. Assets matter. But ultimately, the options have to be there and the de-

mand has to be there. That’s where Cantwell hopes to make a difference. In her vision, every building on campus will have an innovation space. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to send a message that the university is fully engaged in harnessing the nascent innovation power of its undergrads, its graduates and its faculty. “The UA Tech Park at Rita Road is a remarkable asset,” Cantwell said. “The accessible, state-of-the-art resources of the UA Tech Park help both new businesses in early-stage development, as well as established companies, expand their product development capacities.” In the midst of all this change, one thing is likely to remain constant in this place of conceptual abundance – the collision space that happens among companies. About 36% of the tenant stew is comprised of companies just getting started or actively growing – and every day there are opportunities to connect with established companies that may be looking for the next new advancement or that are able to share guidance.

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BizTECHNOLOGY “That’s a purposeful thing we work on here. Building an innovation community is a contact sport and it doesn’t just happen on its own,” Stewart said. The UA Tech Park at Rita Road was recognized in 2018 by Arizona Daily Star readers as having the most innovative and best workplace culture. That was almost certainly based at least in part on creative programming such as yoga in the park or pop-up parties designed to intentionally draw people out of their lab space and into a social environment. For many innovators, their own families may not understand the work they do – so having those connections with others sets them apart from business complexes that are just a collection of buildings. On any given day, a defense executive may be on a treadmill in the fitness center adjacent to a scientist who is working on an invention that could be a tipping point. “That’s where anything can happen,” Stewart said. “That’s the serendipity you can’t predict.”

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UA Tech Park at The Bridges

Moving Innovations Forward By Eric Swedlund Industry insiders have a saying coined by University of North Carolina Professor Albert Link – “There’s one rule about tech parks. If you’ve seen one research park, well, you’ve seen one research park.” No two tech parks look alike – in large part because they take on the characteristics of the university they are affiliated with and split off in areas of specialization, research and amenities. And it turns out that’s true even when they’re affiliated with the same

university. The UA Tech Park at The Bridges is the new kid on the block – emerging from a vast undeveloped parcel around Kino Parkway and 36th Street at a time its original sibling is celebrating its quarter-century anniversary. The 65-acre site is just a straight shot from the University of Arizona – and that in and of itself creates a totally new dynamic and shapes an entirely different personality. “When professors come out to the

UA Tech Park at Rita Road location, it’s very purposeful,” said Carol Stewart, associate VP for Tech Parks Arizona at the University of Arizona and president of the UA Center for Innovation. “We see the UA Tech Park at The Bridges as having a different spirit and more opportunities for students, faculty and corporations to interact.” UA President Robert C. Robbins has high hopes for the facility, which he describes as the commercialization hub for the university.

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

Dr. Robert C. Robbins President University of Arizona

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Ultimately it is the responsibility of the UA to be a catalyst and a driver for economic development.

– Dr. Robert C. Robbins, President, University of Arizona

“I see it as helping us create a beautiful continuum,” he said. “We are telling our students to dream big – help us identify the next great discovery – and to understand we have everything we need right here at the UA to make those dreams happen.” Success isn’t always a straight line but the ideal flowchart for tech transfer as Robbins sees it, goes something like this: “It starts as an embryonic idea that then comes out of a lab or a department to

get incubated and then accelerated. I see a lot of that initial work happening at the UA Center for Innovation incubator outpost at the UA Tech Park at The Bridges, and when the company is successful, it will need to scale the business and possibly move to a larger place like the UA Tech Park at Rita Road.” The UA Tech Park at The Bridges has been a long time coming – in large part because there are a lot of expectations around the first building, which

not only has to establish the larger park system and complement that mission, but also set the tone for what’s going to be unique about the much-anticipated campus. At the same time, it has to meet a balance. It has to have some element of cool. It has to highlight the UA’s commitment in that space, provide an echo to the buildings on campus, and allow for an expansion of the complex over time as the project matures and enters

IMAGE: COURTESY BOYER AND SWAIM

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Conceptual plan of the first building at UA Tech Park at The Bridges

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continued from page 79 into the next phases of development. It also must be marketable and economically viable to compete in an area of town that generally offers affordable rent. It was worth noodling over all those elements, said Matt Jensen, senior project manager for the UA Tech Park at The Bridges development partner, the Boyer Company. The UA Tech Park at The Bridges will offer a variety of spaces such as office, lab and research & development areas designed to help company leaders, university researchers and entrepreneurs move innovations forward. One of the main advantages of this park is the ability to provide options for all types of tenants. “It’s tremendously exciting to have the opportunity to work closely with Tech Parks Arizona and the UA to create a space where the university and the business world come together and do great things,” Jensen said, noting access to the freeway makes the site convenient continued on page 83 >>>

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IMAGE: COURTESY THE UA TECH PARK AT THE BRIDGES

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UA Tech Park at The Bridges

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continued from page 80 for the business community. Convenience to the university is also critical. Tech Launch Arizona, the lead player in taking innovation out of the university and commercializing it, serves as an anchor tenant in the first building. If the Tech Park/UA Center for Innovation are a congratulatory handshake that a company is moving into a bigger phase, Tech Launch is more of an initial hug of support. They work with lawyers to patent ideas and with marketing experts to create buzz around a technology. They help secure licensing and negotiate business agreements. They help inventors find the right resources to build a business plan and implement a strategic vision. They work with as many as 300 inventions a year filing patents on 60% of them. They finalize about 100 license agreements annually, spinning out about a dozen startups. When the companies are being formed, the university can invest resources in these ideas. But once they get

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that license, there’s a bit of a cliff. Companies located at one of the Tech Parks benefit twofold – first by obtaining the physical space needed to grow, and second, helping to cement relationships with the university. Companies find value in funding research, working with researchers or working with interns to seed their pool of talent. “The UA Tech Park at The Bridges is really going to be the innovation hub of the university,” predicted Douglas Hockstad, assistant VP of technology transfer for Tech Launch Arizona. “What’s going to supercharge the ecosystem is for us to be co-located with our Tech Parks comrades, as well as the incubator space UA Center for Innovation. This allows our startups to co-locate with us, along with companies that move into that space because they want to partner with us and the startups.” The fact that it is an easy drive for university travelers also helps. “A lot of our startups are going to be people involved with the university and the closer you are to the physical location, the easier it is to move between your roles,”

Hockstad said. The rising-tide concept is at play, Hockstad said. “As we get more and more successful in commercialization and get more and more startups that grow, as we hire people and get additional investment, that will impact the whole community in only positive ways.” Robbins agreed, noting the UA Tech Park at The Bridges is one of the ways the university can prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “There’s an opportunity to strengthen those partnerships we have with existing companies as well as to attract new companies and new ideas,” he said. “In sports, you can get players on the free-agent market and import them, or you can grow through a farm system. We have to do both – we have to have a diversified approach. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the UA to be a catalyst and a driver for economic development. “I think we’re well positioned to do that. I just think it’s an exciting time to be at the UA.”

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UA Incubator Takes Root in Oro Valley

Building a Base of By April Bourie

Building a bioscience business incubator in Oro Valley has been a goal for several local business leaders for more than five years. Sufficient support for the project wasn’t available until recently when the University of Arizona Center for Innovation got involved. Gary Brav, CEO of BFL Construction, Paul August, VP of biology at Icagen, Ray Woosley, former CEO of CPATH, and Neil Simon, partner of Venture West Construction,

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have been involved with the project from the beginning. “Gary was the real driving force,” said August. “He would instigate monthly lunch meetings to get us all brainstorming about how to make the project happen.” The idea was to create a space where startup life-science companies could work with mentors in Tucson’s area industries to grow their product to the point where it is ready to go to market

while also preparing their businesses to launch the products. The business incubator would be important for the future growth of startup companies The champions continued their quest to garner support and get the project started. “The overarching vision has really been to create a critical mass of biotech companies that are co-located in a single area,” said August. “When University of Arizona President Robbins

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came to town, he was enamored with the fact that Sanofi (now Icagen) and Roche were co-located on Innovation Drive with some other healthcare facilities. He also was really impressed with the concentration of life-science companies that were already established in the area.” The business leaders brought forward the idea of building the incubator as a partnership with the university, explaining that it would create additional

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companies in that same area. “Successful startups are like little kernels of corn that you plant. Once you plant them in a location, they don’t usually move,” said August. The UA Center for Innovation agreed to run the incubation program and the collaboration has created great momentum. “When Carol Stewart arrived and began elevating the UA Center for Innovation, she became a catalyst to help us move this forward and grow

it as part of the regional incubator system,” said August. “She’s really helped us move to the next stage, and we believe that this relationship will catalyze our efforts and propel us into the future with the resources and startup expertise required to advance our mission. “We will incorporate Arizona’s most credible incubation program in the state with world-class minds in bioscience. Combined, this expertise will not only successfully start businesses but scale continued on page 86 >>>

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IMAGE: COURTESY TECH PARKS ARIZONA

Bioscience Companies


BizINNOVATION BOARD OF ADVISORS OFFICERS: 1. Chairman Paul August Icagen 2. Vice Chair Dr. Raymond Woosley The Arizona Center for Education and Research on Therapeutics 3. Treasurer Neil Simon Venture West MEMBERS 4. Pete Bantock Accelerate Diagnostics 5. Kissy Black, BioConvergence Media Lab | Lotos Nile 6. Garry Brav BFL Construction 7. Lawrence M. Hecker Hecker and Pew 8. Sharon Hesterlee AskBio, Inc. 9. Base Horner Desert Angels 10. Chuck Huckelberry Pima County 11. Mary Jacobs Town of Oro Valley 12. Thomas Koch Roche Tissue Diagnostics 13. Matthew Lingard Bayer 14. Fletcher McCusker, UA Venture Capital Fund 15. Nina Ossana BioIndustry of Southern Arizona 16. Dave Perry, Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce 17. Dr. Robert C. Robbins President, University of Arizona 18. Joseph Snell, Sun Corridor Inc. 19. Joe Tatso Roche Tissue Diagnostics 20. Ken Wertman BioIndustry of Southern Arizona 86 BizTucson

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The overarching vision has really been to create a critical mass of biotech companies that are co-located in a single area.

– Paul August VP of Biology, Icagen

continued from page 85 them rapidly – setting a technological advancement pace that will be seen worlwide.” The business incubation program by UA Center for Innovation, will provide lab space, business plan advice and other important assets to help these startups become successful companies alongside existing bioscience companies located in Oro Valley. August pointed to the example of Roche Tissue Diagnostics, formerly known as Ventana Medical Systems, as one success story. “Tom Grogan started the company in his garage and grew it to the company it is today, which employs 1,500 people and brings over $1 billion to Tucson’s economy. We want to feed more of those successful startups here and provide opportunities for graduates from local colleges, JTED programs and the UA.” In addition to the benefits of the program being run by the UA Center for Innovation, en-

trepreneurs will have access to a number of retired executives in their industries who live in Oro Valley. “Many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies have retired to Saddlebrooke and Rancho Vistoso, as have executives who served on boards of large companies. The environment is really rich up here to tap into that group.” Groundbreaking for the center took place in September. The building will have 4,000 square feet of space for the incubator for the incubator. Room for expansion is available for companies interested in co-locating with the program’s startups. The incubator is set to open in June 2020. Many of the Oro Valley incubator’s original board members will act as science advisors for the program and will also be involved in selecting the startups that will participate in the program.

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I think the relationships we build are the reason companies stay here and grow, providing high-quality jobs in Tucson.

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

– Ken Marcus Chief Financial Operating Officer Tech Parks Arizona

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Tech Parks Arizona Provides Customized Support

Connecting Industry, University & Community By Rhonda Bodfield Businesses may share common denominators, but there’s no single recipe for success. Some may need dual-power feeds or redundant systems in their infrastructure. Others need flexible space to make operational adjustments. Some need synergies with other companies or connections to university, industry and community. And they all need to attract – and then retain – highly qualified and talented staff. That’s where the 18-member Tech Parks Arizona team comes in to foster “Communities of Innovation” – a phrase shared by leaders in the Association of University Research Parks as a nod to the potential of anchor institutions to build innovation ecosystems in their regions. With 150 years of collective experience among team members, they provide customized support to each company within the park. “The companies that come here are drawn because of our connection to the university community and to other industries,” said Ken Marcus, chief financial operating officer at Tech Parks Arizona. “They come here because of the type of facilities we have,” he added. “While companies are attracted to the facilities, I think the relationships we build are the reason companies stay here and grow, providing high-quality jobs in Tucson.” Marcus said part of the mix of a healthy economic ecosystem in the rewww.BizTucson.com

gion lies in retaining big anchor companies like IBM, which was there at the beginning and remains part of the park to this day. A second piece lies in attracting large existing companies to the region – with Caterpillar and Hexagon as recent examples drawn to Tucson because of the university. The other important piece is growing local innovation – from attracting foreign investment to nurturing new technology companies and building the future pipeline of workers. In 2009, for example, the UA Tech Park at Rita Road began working with Tucson Electric Power in building the Solar Zone, one of the largest grid-level, multi-technology solar demonstration sites in the North America. Just shy of a dozen companies work together, focused on expanding renewable energy resources in Southern Arizona. In partnership with Vail School District, the park has supported its Boxer Bot robot team. “You want to excite the younger generation about this work so you can help put them on a path to the high-tech jobs of the future,” Marcus said. Ensuring a varied mix of companies takes different strategies. It might include working with municipalities to ensure the right infrastructure – such as the traffic signal at the west entrance to UA Tech Park on Kolb Road or making improvements to Rita Road to support 6,000 knowledge workers coming and going every day. Or it may include hosting pop-up parties in the park or

massages for all employees onsite to celebrate National Relaxation Day. As a seven-year member of the board of directors for the Association of University Research Parks, Marcus has the advantage of learning about the other 200-plus research parks in North America, as well as some international parks. It’s a way to network and absorb best practices. But it’s also a way to see how Tucson stacks up. The UA Tech Park at Rita Road, one of the facilities run by Tech Parks Arizona, is one of the premier parks in the country, he said. That bragging right stems in part from its geographic size at approximately 1,300 acres and its employment numbers – but also because of its economic impact. “UA Tech Park tenants have a $2 billion impact in Arizona. That’s a staggering number and it just demonstrates the impact our tenants have on the region,” he said. Marcus said even after 20 years at the park, there’s never a dull moment. “One moment, you’re wearing a landlord-tenant relations hat, then you put on your hard hat or your economic development hat. You’re helping companies learn how to partner with the university and figuring out the amenities we need to retain them, as working to attract international companies to Tucson. We’re good at what we do – and companies stay, grow and innovate, providing those high-quality jobs we support to spread the economic growth in the region.”

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NANOPEC Mario Blanco, CEO, NANOPEC, is introducing disruptive technology such as MetaFluorex ceramic films in the area of clinical diagnostics. The films increase the sensitivity of fluorescence bio-assay by two orders of magnitude and eliminate a substantial number of false negative tests. NANOPEC is on its way to meet its Seed Series II funding by the end of Q3, 2019.

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION STARTUP CLIENTS

UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION STARTUP CLIENTS

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

ElectroSonix Dr. Russell Witte is founder and CSO at ElectroSonix®, a startup company developing patented technology for noninvasive imaging of electrical currents in the body with sub-mm precision. Sonia Vohnout is COO. ElectroSonix is focused on validating a real-time imaging system to improve screening of and help guide treatment for electrical abnormalities in the heart with other potential applications to the human brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system.

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PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

Reglagene Reglagene is a cancer therapeutics startup based on University of Arizona research. Reglagene creates and develops new medicines that fight drug resistance, the greatest challenge cancer patients face today.

From left â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Vijay Gokhale, VP of Discovery; Teri Suzuki, Senior Biology Director; Richard Austin, CEO & President, and Laurence Hurley, Chief Science Officer.

UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION STARTUP CLIENTS

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

Emagine Solutions Technology Courtney Williams, co-founder and CEO of Emagine Solutions Technology, is launching VistaScan, an affordable ultrasound technology that transforms a cell phone or tablet into an ultrasound machine â&#x20AC;&#x201C; making it easier for clinicians to quickly understand patient conditions in time-sensitive situations. Clinicians can diagnose patients in moments with patented precise point measurements, saving time and ultimately lives at a cost 90 percent less expensive than a cart ultrasound machine. www.BizTucson.com

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UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION STARTUP CLIENTS UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION CLIENTS Not Featured in Photos

• Copperhead Aeronautics • NOAH • Homer Farms • Incident Decision Support • Insulin Initiative • Integral Healthcare Solutions

TG Companies Coby Tao is principal engineer and co-founder of TG Companies, a solar technology startup focused on sustainable deployment of solar energy as part of the world’s emerging energy problems. Their technologies will make the solar industry sustainable by providing recycling service and equipment for end-of-life solar cells and modules. Instead of ending up in landfills, the majority of these solar cells and modules are reused in new cells and modules.

UA CENTER FOR INNOVATION STARTUP CLIENTS

PHOTOS: CHRIS MOONEY

Souvie Biodelivery Dr. Souvenir Tachado, president and CEO of Souvie Biodelivery, has created a drug- delivery company that engineered the surfaces of cell-derived nanovesicles to function as disease-celltargeting drug-delivery vehicles. Engineered cellderived nanovesicles represent a novel class of biologics to treat human diseases – including inflammation, cancer and cardiovascular disorders.

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PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

UA Center for Innovation Team (from left) Carol Stewart, Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona and President, UA Center for Innovation; Anita Bell, Director; Shari Kahn, Administrative Assistant and Eric Smith, Executive Director

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UA Center for Innovation

Tech Parks Arizona Nurtures Startups By Rhonda Bodfield Around office water coolers and coffee stations, it’s common to hear employees talking about movies they’ve seen, sports they’ve watched or family matters. At the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, the water cooler and coffee pot chat among owners of technology startups in the program often can make a huge difference for their products and companies. “We don’t accept competing companies in our program, but we do work with startups in similar industries,” said Anita Bell, director of the UA Center for Innovation. “One time we had three different startups that were working with drones. “One was using drones to develop a geo fence around airports to restrict other drones from coming in. Another was attempting to find a way to control two drones flying together and the third was using a drone to identify where to best spray pesticides on crops. It really was helpful for the three of them to talk and share information,” Bell said. The UA Center for Innovation is a business incubator program located at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road that fosters startup technology companies, allowing them to evolve their products to the point where they can be launched into the marketplace. The program allows entrepreneurs to work together in a fast-moving, collaborative and creative environment and includes customized business-support programs like mentorship, connection to the resources of the UA and the Tucson community, interactive workshops, seminars and networking events. Entrepreneurs also are provided state-of-theart lab facilities and equipment. Entrepreneurs must apply to the program and pay a portion of the costs once they are accepted. They work on www.BizTucson.com

their products and their business plans concurrently during the process. “We are a full-service incubator,” said Carol Stewart, associate VP of Tech Parks Arizona and president of the UA Center for Innovation. “We don’t just focus on one aspect of the startup company. Entrepreneurs need

We are a full-service incubator. We don’t just focus on one aspect of the startup company.

– Carol Stewart Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona & President, UA Center for Innovation

to consider money requirements, product development, who their customers will be, as well as what team they are going to have to put in place to run the company.” “Working on both also gives program participants the opportunity to scale faster,” Stewart said. “This means they can evolve their product and grow their company more quickly and pivot to make necessary changes. For example, if while creating the business plan, a new market is revealed, the entrepreneur can easily adjust the product to

meet the needs of the new market segment. It actually provides guidance on how to develop the product more effectively.” Many startups that already have been through the program successfully launched their products. Emagine Solutions is developing a mobile ultrasoundimaging technology that doctors can use on their smartphones. “They are currently in the research and development phase of the product,” said Bell. “They have applied for approval from the FDA and are hoping to sell the product by the end of the year.” Metropia is another success story. The company developed a technology that is able to monitor and meter traffic, encouraging drivers to be on the roads during off peak hours when possible. “They have contracts with several different cities, and they also work with the Border Patrol to monitor border crossings,” Bell said. “In addition, they are working with our Regional Transportation Authority to look at traffic patterns and determine how to encourage travelers to use alternatives like Uber, the bus, etc., to move people from one place to another while reducing traffic.” Launching these successful companies only adds to the economic development of the region as they hire more employees and spend money running their businesses. “The UA Center for Innovation is a great asset for startups in the region, providing valuable guidance and access to top faculty and researchers at the University of Arizona,” said Joe Snell, president and CEO of Sun Corridor Inc., the region’s economic development arm. “They continue to play an important role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for emerging and mature continued on page 101 >>> Fall 2019

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COMMUNITIES OF INNOVATION AT UA TECH PARK UA Tech Park at Rita Road Tenant Sampling

The UA Tech Park is a hub of innovation that spans 1,300 acres and houses 45 companies and 6,000 knowledge workers. It is one of the largest university research parks in the nation. The resources at the UA Tech Park help both startups and established companies expand their product development capacities. These are some of the innovations in progress.

2) NP Photonics NP Photonics is an optics company and the leading manufacturer of fiber lasers, fiber amplifiers and specialty fibers for the sensing, defense, metrology and research markets. NP Photonics, a company stemming from University of Arizona research currently has more than 1,600 lasers installed worldwide. It continues to grow through technology development, strategic partnerships and engagement with markets in which the company has a clear sustainable competitive advantage. 3) Ascensus Ascensus launched its west coast presence and moved into the UA Tech Park in 2017. This office has allowed the company to make a difference for others, and strive to reach its goal of helping millions of people save for what matters most — retirement, education, and healthcare.

4) Tech Parks Arizona Tech Parks Arizona develops the atmosphere for success which connects the university, community and industry. By linking cutting-edge technology companies with the resources of University of Arizona, Tech Parks Arizona creates an environment in which companies innovate, grow and succeed – a place where innovators and business leaders meet and where emerging companies and technology giants work side by side. 5) IBM IBM has been at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road tenant since 1979. IBM’s Tucson site has established itself as a strategic facility for the corporation. A majority of the staff at IBM Tucson are focused on data storage systems development. Major divisions include Systems and Technology Group, Software, Global Business Service and i2. To celebrate IBM Tucson and its great partnership with the UA Tech Park over the past 25 years, the dedicated team banded together, withstood the heat, and assembled into a human IBM logo. 6) Optum Rx At Optum, we collaborate and partner deeply, driven by a shared vision of health care that works better

for everyone. Our Tucson site at the UA Tech Park opened in September 2012 with 120 employees a combination of advocates and supervisors. We had trainers that came from various sites around the country to help and guide us in building our success in Tucson. Today we have grown to 445 employees with more classes slated for later this year. Our advocates use their personality and tools to help guide our members to understand their health care benefits and to make their better choices, to help answer questions and to educate them on a variety of topics. 7) Citi It was fifteen years ago that Citi established operations at the UA Tech Park. Each year, the company has grown and expanded its offerings. Citi often attributes their success in Tucson to their ability to attract and retain exceptional employees coupled with the state-of-the-art facilities and responsive management at the UA Tech Park. 8) Coherent Coherent Tucson, 14 years at UA Tech Park, manufactures high-power diode lasers for industrial, scientific, and commercial applications.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF UA TECH PARKS

1) Darling Geomatics Darling Geomatics, a fast growth company using LiDAR, laser trackers, drones and GPS technologies for 2D and 3D models and maps; headquartered at the UA Tech Park.

UA TECH PARK TENANTS

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COMMUNITIES OF INNOVATION AT UA TECH PARK

3) Vail Academy and High School Vail Academy and High School have twice been recognized as an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Education Foundation, and have received the state’s highest ranking, either “Highly Effective” or an “A” for 13 years in a row. Vail High School began offering classes at the UA Tech Park in 1997. Vail Academy (K-8) joined the already established Vail High School at a new site in the UA Tech Park in 2010. Vail High School and the Tech Park have developed an innovative program that offer students realworld business experience by way part-time employment.

PHOTO: CHRIS MOONEY

2) Association of University Research Parks The Association of University Research Parks – a professional association of global universityrelated research, science and tech parks and innovation districts – is headquartered in the UA Tech Park. AURP has direct connections with stakeholders from 200+ top level university research parks leaders.

UA TECH PARK TENANTS

1) University of Arizona Steward Observatory Researchers and technicians at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory are currently qualifying the control system for the M3 Tertiary Mirror Rotator and Positioner for the Tokyo Atacama Observatory Telescope. The telescope will be located on the summit of Cerro Chajnantor in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile at an altitude of 18,500 feet – the highest permanent astronomical observatory in the world.

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• AAA

• Pacific Maintenance

• Arzona Solar

• ProAutomation

• Cleveland Electric Labs

• Raytheon Missile Systems

• CTECH

• REhnu

• Duke Energy

• Securitas

• E.On

• Siemens Building Technologies

• Eurest

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• Hamilton Innovations • International Tower • Jacobs

• Tucson Electric Power • WGL Energy • Verizon Wireless

• Oracle

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BizTECHNOLOGY continued from page 97 companies to develop their ideas, inventions and products.” Creating an economic ecosystem for startup companies is important to the UA Center for Innovation, not only the UA Tech Park at Rita Road, but throughout the region. To expand the program’s reach, it will soon run its program in a new facility in Oro Valley. “Developing the next major employer like Roche or Icagen from scratch is incredibly challenging,” said Paul August, VP of biology at Icagen, who has been working to get a business incubator built in Oro Valley since 2013. “Southern Arizona has so much to offer new bioscience companies. Unfortunately, finding capital, great lab space and qualified personnel can be challenging in our region. The momentum of partnering with the University of Arizona through the UA Center for Innovation has been incredibly powerful.” The center also provides programming and office hours in Vail in partnership with the Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce. “Vail Chamber Connection is one of the first collaborative office spaces for entrepreneurs on

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the southeast side – and the UA Tech Park at Rita Road is leading the initiative to build public awareness and assist

The momentum of partnering with the University of Arizona through the UA Center for Innovation has been incredibly powerful.

– Paul August, VP of Biology, Icagen

in business development,” said MaRico Tippett, Greater Vail Area Chamber president and CEO. BizLaunch Ideation Bootcamp, a crash course on what it takes to start a business in Sahuarita, is one of the services provided through the UA Center

for Innovation in cooperation with the Town of Sahuarita. “Entrepreneurial development is a commitment to improving the skills and knowledge of entrepreneurs by various means,” said Victor Gonzalez, economic development director for the Town of Sahuarita. “Our partnership with the University of Arizona Center for Innovation allows us to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sahuarita where aspiring entrepreneurs can thrive. Programs such as BizLaunch are a wonderful example of distinctive organizations coming together for the betterment of Sahuarita’s economic base and entrepreneurial development.” Nurturing an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in the region is also an important part of the UA’s strategic plan under President Robert C. Robbins’ leadership. “The University of Arizona is going to be around for a really long time,” said Stewart. “We want to build a continuum of successful technology startups and be the constant that makes them successful.”

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STEM Summer Camps

University of Arizona Steward Observatory

Tech Parks Arizona

Creating Opportunities Through Collaboration By April Bourie Of the many roles Tech Parks Arizona plays, connecting the University of Arizona to businesses and the community is one of the most critical. The UA Tech Park at Rita Road works with many different programs throughout the university to create opportunities to interact with the regional and international community. Internships for graduate and undergraduate students are one example of this interaction. Students from universities all over the nation partner with startup and emerging companies as www.BizTucson.com

well as the tech giants housed at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road to work on a variety of projects including industry reports, market analysis and technical programs like designing autonomous solar go-karts to gain â&#x20AC;&#x153;real-worldâ&#x20AC;? experience. These internships are crucial for developing a talented workforce for Southern Arizona and the nation. STEM summer camps allow the University of Arizona to reach out to the local community. Since 2015, Arizona Youth University has partnered with the UA Tech Park and the YMCA

to offer summer enrichment camps at the Tech Park at Rita Road. Facilitated by UA Campus Recreation, the camps are designed to introduce youth in grades three through eight to a variety of STEM fields including robotics, engineering, coding, website development, forensics and more, all in a realworld setting. A newly developed program with the UA Alumni Association will create networking channels between employees and alumni who work at the UA Tech continued on page 106 >>> Fall 2019

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PHOTO: COURTESY TECH PARKS ARIZONA

UA Connections


BizTECHNOLOGY

continued from page 105 Park and alumni in similar fields, providing opportunities for employees to supercharge their careers. Alumni also will be tapped for mentoring through the UA Center for Innovation, allowing startup founders to receive guidance in a variety of areas, including business formation, business development, market analysis and scaling collaboration operations. The recent expansion of Steward Observatory’s Engineering Technical Services to the UA Tech Park at Rita Road provides an opportunity for Tech Parks Arizona. “Our building at the UA is going through a major renovation, and the space here at the Tech Park was available for us to expand. Plus, it is already owned by the university,” said Jeff Kingsley, associate director of Steward Observatory and director of projects, engineering and technical services for the UA College of Optical Sciences. “It’s a one-year trial experiment, but if it works well, we’ll stay much longer than that, and the extra space will allow

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us to take on additional projects.” Steward Observatory provides resources for students and faculty in several programs at the UA. “Our mission is to support the research projects of tenured faculty at Steward Observatory, the College of Optical Sciences, the Lunar Planetary Labs and other areas of the university,” Kingsley said. “We want to be able to provide them with the resources they need to do big projects.” One of the observatory’s main projects at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road is the development of a new and less expensive 6.5-meter telescope. “We are working with local UA alumni-created companies M3 and CAID on this project,” said Kingsley. Observatory staff is also building the mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope, which has seven mirrors and will be located in Chile. There is a possibility that the cells, which hold the mirrors on the telescope, will be built in their facilities at the UA Tech Park if a new building can be built. Kingsley thinks this will be achieved fairly easily. “A ben-

efit of being located at the Tech Park is that they can build quickly here. We can move forward with this and even build more if necessary because the space is readily available.” In its UA Tech Park facilities, the observatory staff also is working on the San Pedro Mártir telescope, which will be placed in northern Baja, California, and finishing the primary mirror and support system for the Tokyo Atakama array going to the Atakama Desert in Chile. The projects draw researchers and astronomers from all over the world. While at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road, Kingsley plans to provide monthly lectures for employees who work at the UA Tech Park. Key senior technical presenters would discuss a variety of science topics, engaging employees at the tech park and creating further opportunities for networking and collaboration.

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Racing the Sun

Solar Powered Go-Kart Program Builds Teamwork By April Bourie It is a race – but it’s not all about speed in ate VP of Tech Parks Arizona Arizona and the Racing the Sun program developed by president of the UA Center for Innovation. Tech Parks Arizona. Bowman and Meyer are looking forward Racing the Sun is where high school teams to expanding the race in future years, both build and race solar-powered go-karts that geographically and by adding more teams to run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. Howthe competition. Meyer holds a special place ever, the benefits that come from building the in her heart for racing, as she herself drove karts are more imporin Solo 2 races for her tant than how fast they father’s car until she can move. was 40. “There is a lot that Racing the Sun has to be done to run is currently the only these karts on solar competition of its kind power. Gear ratios in the Arizona region have to be adjusted – so teams from as and several other far away as Rio Rico, things have to be done Many Farms on the to make it work properNavajo Nation and ly,” said Brooke Meyer, even New Mexico can director of education come to compete. So and innovation for the far, teams from Sierra SARSEF, which stands Vista, Tucson and for Southern Arizona Phoenix have particiResearch Science and pated. Last year, 16 – Liz Bowman Engineering Foundateams competed, but tion. there is room for up CEO “Being so hands on, to 25. SARSEF it’s a tangible experi“When you talk ence for the students to students, you can to work through the engineering and desee how their lives are transformed by this sign process,” said Liz Bowman, CEO of process,” said Meyer. She was listening to SARSEF. “It’s the problem-solving process a participant who had been involved in the as well as teamwork that we want them to program for several years, moving up from experience.” driver her first year to captain of the team Tech Parks Arizona originally developed in her senior year. “To watch her transition the Racing the Sun program to enhance was so moving. It’s a great way to get girls workforce development programs in the reinvolved in engineering as well.” gion, then asked SARSEF to take over the “We feel so incredibly fortunate that Tech program this year to reach a broader group. Parks Arizona is supportive of us taking this “SARSEF is the ideal organization to move on. They’ve put so much passion and dedicaRacing the Sun from the incubation stage tion into this program,” said Bowman. “We and scale it up to magnify its ability to build want to continue to build on their vision.” future leaders,” said Carol Stewart, associBiz

PHOTO: COURTESY TECH PARKS ARIZONA

Being so hands on, it’s a tangible experience for the students to work through the engineering and design process.

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Profile for BizTucson Magazine

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BizTucson Fall 2019 - Tech Parks Special Section  

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