Page 1




Bruce A. Wright

Associate VP Tech Parks Arizona, University of Arizona

David N. Allen

VP Tech Launch Arizona, University of Arizona 96 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Tech Parks Arizona Focused on the Future of



By Eric Swedlund Tech Parks Arizona is leading the University of Arizona’s tech parks into a new era – with plans designed to expand business engagement into areas that reflect the university’s research strengths, help faculty bring innovation to the marketplace, and build research and development facilities for companies employing thousands of high-tech workers. This year is the 20th anniversary of Tech Parks Arizona, which began in 1994 as the UA Office of Economic Development and included a single park that is known today as the UA Tech Park. “The UA Tech Park’s first goal was to reach financial self-sufficiency. Thus, our mission and focus were initially to recruit revenue-producing tenants,” said Bruce A. Wright, associate VP for Tech Parks Arizona. His unit is part of Tech Launch Arizona, which focuses on technology

commercialization and industry-sponsored research with the goal of moving knowledge and inventions developed by students and faculty into the market. “Now we are at a point where we can be more strategic in the enterprises, companies and programs we recruit into the park and the types of partnerships we form. The benefit of our success is that we have been able to use our financial resources to expand the UA Tech Park and also acquire land for a new park,” Wright said. The UA Tech Park, located about 13 miles southeast of the UA campus and managed by Tech Parks Arizona, was purchased in 1994 from IBM. The park helped commercialize UA-developed technologies as part of a broad regional economic development mission. In 2007, the UA also acquired property three miles continued on page 98 >>>

Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 97

20 Years of Innovation 1993 Hughes Aircraft/Raytheon

Missile Systems begin operations at UA Tech Park

1994 University of Arizona

purchases site from IBM to develop a university-affiliated research park

1996 Microsoft leases space at the UA Tech Park

1997 Vail High School and Arizona International Campus begin offering classes onsite

1998 Integrated Biomolecule Corpo-


ration, the UA Tech Park’s first new tenant, begins operations at the park

1999 NP Phototonics – the UA

Tech Park’s first UA-faculty-led company – begins operations

2001 Association of University

Research Parks honors UA Tech Park as the nation’s “Outstanding Research Park”

2003 Arizona Center for Innovation, a business incubator, opens at the UA Tech Park

2004 Citi becomes a major tenant

and moves into Building 9060

2006 UA South begins offering classes onsite at the park

2007 UA acquires land at 36th

Street and Kino Boulevard for UA Bio Park

continued on page 100 >>> 98 BizTucson


Summer 2014

continued from page 97

terprises,” Allen said. south of the UA’s main campus – at a “Over the past 20 years the UA Tech location called The Bridges – for a secPark has emerged as a major employond technology park. Originally conment center – a major concentration ceived as a bioscience park, the focus of technology workforce – and because has since expanded to embrace other the park is now in a positive financial technologies. The new park is now situation, we can be confident that as called UA Tech Park at The Bridges. we take some new strides and do things “We are trying to differentiate the differently, we can indeed take its imparks,” Wright said. “Each will propact to a higher level.” vide faculty, students, companies and employees with a different array of reHistory of Research Parks search and development assets, opporThere are more than 175 universitytunities and benefits.” affiliated research parks in the United Both parks are crucial elements of States. These parks have played a major university strategic planning – includrole in creating high-tech, high-paying ing President Ann Weaver Hart’s Never jobs. Settle plan and the roadmap developed IBM originally built the park in southby Tech Launch Arizona a year ago east Tucson in 1979, a state-of-the-art to transform technology creation and facility designed for its Storage Systems commercialization at the UA. Division. When the UA purchased the “There’s been a confluence of opfacility, IBM remained as one of two portunity and performance that has tenants – the other been woven into being Raytheon a strategy for the Missile Systems, parks,” said David which located N. Allen, VP of 1,200 employees Tech Launch Arion-site. Microsoft zona. signed on in 1996 “Within roughand by the end of ly a six-month the decade, the period, we had Tech Park had 17 major changes companies with a and refinement in $1.5 billion total focus and orientaeconomic impact. tion for where the In 2001, the Assouniversity is going ciation of Univerin its research ensity Research Parks deavors, where it’s named the UA going to be makTech Park the top ing its investments university research for research enpark in North deavors, and how America. TLA and the Tech The quick sucParks will work tocess was by design. gether.” “I’m a student The maturation of research parks of the UA Tech – Bruce A. Wright and I’ve studied Park itself is a big Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona what’s happened reason it has been in the United incorporated into States over the last a greater vision 60 years,” Wright said. “I’ve taken a for how the UA can expand its research pretty hard look at top research parks commercialization efforts, Allen said. in North America and there have been “It’s been a facility, a program, a netsome generational changes.” work – and it has reached a level that A number of parks sprang up after is not seen by many universities. Most the success of early leaders like the universities have to continually pour Stanford Research Park, which was money into their technology park en-

As the result of the success of the UA Tech Park, we’ve had the resources to acquire the land at The Bridges and begin developing a second park with a different physical form and different development approach.

BizINNOVATION Facilities at the UA Tech Park


founded in 1951 and became the cornerstone of what is today known as Silicon Valley. North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park was formed in 1959 to capitalize on the strengths of three nearby universities. Wright characterizes that first generation of university research parks as simply the foundation, with a focus on acquiring land and beginning operations. The second generation of parks hinged on technology transfer, taking particular innovations into the marketplace. The third generation found university research parks reaching outward to build partnerships and relationships with their communities and industry. “I think we’re now in generation four, which asks, ‘What specifically can research parks offer to this whole process of technological innovation, commerce and development?’” Wright said. “A number of the parks are becoming more focused in terms of what they provide, the business services they offer and the initiatives they pursue.” Having multiple sites provides distinct advantages in terms of flexibility and choices for businesses navigating a complex environment. “We came to the conclusion that we had a great advantage with the UA Tech Park with its size and location – but at the same time we needed a park closer to the main campus of the university,” Wright said. “Some companies like the suburban setting and other companies really want their employees in an urban environment. We’re trying to respond to different requirements that different businesses have.” Alignment with the University’s Strategic Plan To maximize the effectiveness of Tech Parks Arizona contributions to advancing the UA’s mission, Wright and his team are focusing on a defined set of research strengths. Those areas include – aerospace, defense and security; water, environmental sciences, agriculture and arid lands; solar and renewable energy; mining technology; and life sciences and biosciences. The UA’s strengths in optics and informatics also are foundational in these areas. continued on page 100 >>>

Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 99

20 Years of Innovation continued from page 98

2008 Tech Parks Arizona initiates

Global Advantage program for international business development

2009 Arizona Board of Regents

approves the UA Bio Park master land use plan

2009 UA receives a $4.7 million

grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration for infrastructure improvements for UA Bio Park

2010 Vail Academy and High


School construction is completed and classes begin

2011 Phase 1 of the Solar Zone, a joint venture between the UA and Tucson Electric Power, is completed – a $2.6 million infrastructure project that generates 23 megawatts

2011 The UA Bio Park is

“development ready”

2012 Tech Launch Arizona is

officially formed and Tech Parks Arizona named a component part of TLA

2013 Security Innovation Hub

Program, a laboratory for the testing and evaluation of border technologies, successfully hosts inaugural Border Technology Showcase See more at

100 BizTucson


Summer 2014

continued from page 99

relations, research commercialization, “The idea now is to use those spestarting new companies – can be aided cializations as guideposts to go out and by Tech Parks Arizona, Allen said. attract technology companies into the “We’re trying to align the Tech Park region at one of the two parks. Those and particularly the Arizona Center translate into some powerful industry for Innovation (Tech Parks Arizona’s areas,” Wright said. business incubator) as an integral part By choosing to focus on just research of the services Tech Launch Arizona areas that have the biggest advantage is providing to the university and the for the university, the mission will be community,” he said. “That is the clearer and the outcomes will help build quintessential role of TLA that we talkcritical mass. ed about from the very beginning. TLA “The other part of it is to use the is more than just the sum of its parts. parks as an asset and a tool for our reThe parts can interact with each other search and educain a way to prestional enterprises ent something you in the same areas. would not have The opportunity otherwise.” for faculty to take The interminadvantage of dogling and interdeing research projpendency of difects, doing testing, ferent resources, doing demonstrapeople and skills tion of their projcentered on the ects at either park university’s knowlis an important edge base is crucial part of what we’re in taking innovatrying to do,” tions to market. Wright said. “To be able to To attract comput small amounts panies, Tech Parks of resources into Arizona and TLA proof of concept – David N. Allen are putting toand be able to do VP, Tech Launch Arizona gether a series of it in environments “attraction teams” that are nimble centered on those core strategic areas. like the UA Tech Park is something that “We’re putting in-house staff toother people in my seat would salivate gether, we’re putting technical and over,” Allen said. marketing expertise around that particular area, we’re involving key people Two Parks – Dual Potential from the university and we’re bringing The 1,345-acre UA Tech Park now in representatives of Tucson Regional has more than 40 businesses – includEconomic Opportunities, Pima County ing six Fortune 500 companies – with and the Arizona Commerce Authornearly 7,000 employees, and contribity,” Wright said. “We’re fashioning an utes $2.4 billion annually to the region’s attraction team that can reach out and economy. bring companies in and connect them The UA Tech Park at The Bridges is throughout the university and the com65 vacant acres, with infrastructure in munity and thereby enhance the opporplace and, most importantly, no debt tunities for successful recruiting of that to be paid. Initially intended to focus company. strictly on bioscience, this park’s mis“We’re proactively going out and sion has been expanded to include all identifying companies – primarily small technologies. and midsized technology companies – “The bad news is that the developthat are looking for a relationship with ment of The Bridges was slowed by the the university and an entry point into Great Recession. But the good news is the marketplace.” that it’s given us an opportunity to step Everything Tech Launch Arizona back and be more reflective and stratedoes – technology transfer, corporate gic – and align that with what President

We’re working to align the Tech Parks as an integral dimension of the services Tech Launch Arizona is providing to the university and the community.


BizINNOVATION Hart is doing with the Never Settle plan and with Tech Launch Arizona. It’s a grand opportunity for us,” Wright said. “David Allen has created a technology innovation and commercialization model that is unique in the United States,” Wright said. “He’s taken the best from other areas and adapted them to the specific context of Tucson and the president’s strategic plan for the university. Tech Parks Arizona is doing the same thing. We’re not replicating a model that’s anywhere else. There are elements of what we’re doing, but it is a unique configuration between these two.” Less than three miles from campus, at East 36th Street and Kino Parkway, The Bridges will be more urban and dense and offer a closer connection to both the main campus and the Arizona Health Sciences Center. “The physical form will be different. It won’t have quite the suburban look of the UA Tech Park. It will have more of a vertical look. Some of the difficulties – for example, the distance between main campus and the UA Tech Park – will be solved by a closer option,” Allen said. “It is a different opportunity in the way we see it developing and the kinds of engagement it will have with the university – partly because from the very beginning we’ll build that engagement differently.” The Bridges’ long-term plan calls for about 4 million square feet of developed office and laboratory space that could support about 18,000 to 20,000 employees onsite, given the planned urban density. Even before Never Settle, planning for The Bridges was centered on a longterm vision, one the university could guide from the start – a very different beginning scenario than that of the first property at the UA Tech Park. “With the Tech Park, we were handed the existing infrastructure system IBM built and had to grow it and maintain it,” Wright said. “With The Bridges, we built the infrastructure to exceed the foreseeable research and technology needs of our target companies – because we needed to be ready for whatever the technology world is going to demand from us in the future.”


Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 101


102 BizTucson


Summer 2014


Spring 2014 > > > BizTucson 103


Interactive Ground UA Grows Tech Companies By Eric Swedlund Ground becomes the core element of everySuccess is built on collaboration, strategic thing that happens at the southeast side UA alignments and shared goals. The University Tech Park, which pumps $2.3 billion annually of Arizona’s Tech Park, now 20 years old, is providing that connection through what it calls into the region’s economy, Wright said. Interactive Ground. A second park with infrastructure in place is “We are a place that brings together the comready to be built out on 65 acres located less munity, industry and university resources to than three miles south of UA main campus. achieve innovative technology advancement, This site was recently renamed UA Tech Park and ultimately, comat The Bridges. mercialization of that The UA Tech Park proinnovation,” said Bruce vides an alternate location Wright, UA associate VP for university classes and of Tech Parks Arizona. can be a place where variTech Parks Arizona ous departments or prois part of Tech Launch grams can engage in speArizona, an office that cial projects with industry. reports directly to PresiBoth UA South and the dent Ann Weaver Hart Outreach College offer and focuses on technolclasses at the park. ogy commercialization “The park can be a and industry-sponsored great big working, living research efforts. TLA is laboratory for both facabout moving knowledge ulty and students who see and inventions developed a need to advance their research,” Wright said. by students and faculty “We’re not a research from the lab to the mar– Ken Marcus center for the university ketplace where they can Director in the pure sense. We’re have a tangible impact UA Tech Park on the region’s economy. a facility and environ“Tech Parks Arizona is ment for applied research not just a set of buildings,” Wright said. “It’s – but we really see ourselves fitting in a couple a place that is trying to create an environment of different areas,” Wright said. “We operate and a set of programs that will add value to the at the midstage of business incubation by helpefforts of both the companies we engage with ing companies move their product through the and the university.” development process. The whole idea of taking technology from the design through first-generFocusing on the value that Tech Parks Ariation manufacturing is one of our key areas of zona can offer and fostering that Interactive

Our job is to create environments where connections are forged, innovation is nurtured and companies grow by meeting market needs.

continued on page 106 >>> 104 BizTucson


Summer 2014



Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 105

BizINNOVATION continued from page 104 focus.” For the community, the tech parks are an important asset that contributes to advancing the economic development goals of Tucson and the Southern Arizona region. “With respect to the community, we’re a connection point for tech business activity. We offer community organizations the opportunity to come here and use the park as a place to engage with technology companies and industry,” Wright said. On the industry side, the tech parks are an attractive resource for both new companies and those looking to grow. “Over the past few years, we’ve been trying to understand how the UA Tech Park fits into the larger goal of attracting technology companies into the re-

gion and growing technology companies that are emanating from research conducted at the university,” Wright said. “We began to really ask, ‘What is the value proposition that the park offers to industry and to the university?’ “From the outside in, we’re a place that can attract technology companies – whether they’re startups or mature companies – and bring them into a location that gets them connected to the university. That’s a primary focus – to attract companies that will both benefit from the university connection, as well as link back into the university as it continues to do research and address those big questions facing society.” That connection can provide companies access to faculty and relevant re-

search, access to a workforce in the form of work-ready graduates, and access to essential lab and production space. For new companies, the tech parks can provide assistance in the entire process of moving technologies through the early stages of product development, prototyping and first-generation manufacturing, then providing market access as well. “Our job is to create environments where connections are forged, innovation is nurtured and companies grow by meeting market needs,” said Ken Marcus, director of the UA Tech Park, describing the essence of the park’s Interactive Ground ideal.


The 65-acre Bio Park three miles from the University of Arizona campus was recently renamed UA Tech Park at The Bridges. The new name is part of a larger, more strategic plan to expand the park’s scope to encompass all technology companies seeking to connect with this top-tier research university.

106 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 107

Cliff Coss

UA Researcher & Co-founder, GlycoSurf

108 BizTucson


Summer 2014



Benefits from Tech-to-Market Process By Dan Sorenson developing a business, the new company then became a In a year or so, products made by GlycoSurf, a University tenant at the UA Tech Park, which offered services, facilities of Arizona spinoff, should find their way to store shelves as and equipment necessary to further develop their invention key components of sunscreens, anti-aging creams and other and manufacturing processes. With its business model cen“cosmeceuticals.” tered on a specialized chemical process, GlycoSurf needed Based on the company’s hard work and success develto scale up production and advance from a small-scale fume oping and validating its invention – as well as honing its hood into a dedicated laboratory bench that could accombusiness strategy – that should all come to pass according to Cliff Coss, UA researcher and co-founder of GlycoSurf. modate its new 7-foot reactor. GlycoSurf uses technologies developed at the UA that The UA Tech Park’s laboratory space was ideal because are in the final stages of being licensed to a company coof its structure and support. The park customized the lab founded by Coss and UA scientists and professors Jeanne to accommodate GlycoSurf ’s specialized equipment, allowE. Pemberton with the Department ing Coss and his teammates to rent a of Chemistry and Biochemistry and work-ready space without having to Raina M. Maier with the Departsink additional time into laboratory ment of Soil, Water and Environdesign and construction. The park’s mental Science. “rent-a-bench” program allows comThis promising startup is taking panies the flexibility to expand their full advantage of services provided laboratory space while ramping up by Tech Launch Arizona to move their operations to support their growth. In addition, the UA Tech through the business development process – from proof of concept on Park offers a best-practices environtoward first-generation production. ment, having adopted Good Laboratory Practice standards for conductTech Launch Arizona is a unit dedicated to maximizing the university’s ing nonclinical research. impact through commercializing the With the space and equipment inventions born of research. challenges addressed, the company – Cliff Coss, UA Researcher “We’re a chemical materials manthen worked on its business strategy and Co-founder, GlycoSurf ufacturer,” Coss said. “We make sugwith the Arizona Center for Innovaar-based surfactants and therapeutic tion, a business incubator located at agents. Our target markets are cosmeceuticals – anti-aging the UA Tech Park that provides the hands-on business decreams, sunscreens, skin-lightening creams. We sell the acvelopment assistance that new ventures need to start and tive ingredient for those products. grow successfully. “The surfactants that are currently produced are laborLooking at the entire process of taking an invention born intensive and the purity is relatively low,” he said. GlycoSof research all the way to market, GlycoSurf bubbles up urf ’s process efficiently produces surfactants that are more as a prime example of how the University of Arizona supthan 95 percent pure. And even though the products are ports the entire technology commercialization continuum. synthetic, their process is also more environmentally friendIt all started with Coss simply reaching out to Tech ly than the established method. Launch Arizona with an idea for an environmentallyInitially, GlycoSurf worked with Wheelhouse Arizona, friendly product. the unit within Tech Launch Arizona that helps develop From that point on, TLA’s resources were put to work new ventures. GlycoSurf has collaborated with Wheelhouse to help this innovative researcher take that vision from a on a proof of concept project, which provided funding to concept to full-fledged company. And today, Coss and his ready their early stage technology for the marketplace. partners are on their way to contributing to a better world To bridge the gap between proof of concept and through successfully launching a better, smarter product into the marketplace. Biz

Our target markets are cosmeceuticals – anti-aging creams, sunscreens, skin-lightning creams.


Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 109


DILAS Diode Laser, high-power diode laser manufacturer 110 BizTucson


Summer 2014


Tech Parks Offer Business Advantage By Eric Swedlund More often than not, even the largest, most successful companies need to look beyond their own people and resources to advance. They need access to fresh talent, innovative ideas and new markets. Tech Parks Arizona offers an attractive array of services and initiatives designed to address those needs, giving companies a clear business advantage.

“Those five technology clusters are all areas in which the University of Arizona has very strong research programs and can have a direct connection to the Southern Arizona economy,” Wright said. “We think we can be very competitive in attracting international companies to the region, drawing upon strengths in those technology sectors.”

Global Advantage Global Advantage is a partnership between Tech Parks Arizona and The Offshore Group, which owns and operates manufacturing communities in Mexico and provides integrated support services to international companies who participate in these communities. The innovative collaboration is designed to leverage the benefits and assets of the Arizona-Sonora region. “Traditionally, many of the technology companies that are trying to enter the U.S. market come through the East or West coasts,” said Bruce A. Wright, associate VP president of Tech Parks Arizona, a unit of Tech Launch Arizona. TLA is a cabinetlevel office focused on the UA’s technology commercialization and industry-sponsored research efforts, moving knowledge and inventions developed by students and faculty into the market. “Tech Parks can be an alternate way to enter the U.S. market – particularly in areas where we have world-class strengths at the university, or existing technology bases. We’re putting together a program that allows for a soft landing for some of these companies.”

These additional key technology areas cross through all tech areas:

Key technology areas are:

• Advanced energy • Mining technology • Defense and security technologies • Bioscience and health • Agriculture, water and arid lands technology

• Sustainability • Imaging (optics/photonics) • Advanced manufacturing • Informatics Launched in October, the Global Advantage initiative is reaching out to businesses, offering help in locating facilities, market analysis, regulatory compliance and access to a qualified workforce. “We’re ramping up a marketing campaign and we’re putting together a whole array of business support services that can assist those companies with their market entry,” Wright said. The partnership with Offshore, which operates three manufacturing parks in Mexico, is crucial. It allows companies that do research and prototyping at the UA Tech Park to ramp up manufacturing at more competitive rates. Arizona Center for Innovation The Arizona Center for Innovation, a component of Tech Parks Arizona, fosters startups and assists emerging and mature technology companies in the development and commercialization of ideas, discoveries and products. AzCI provides resources such as co-working space, full-service offices, professionally managed state-of-theart laboratories and equipment, an innovative business development curriculum, and connections to business experts and continued on page 113 >>> Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 111


Igniting Synergy at the Solar Zone By Dan Sorenson The Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park is one of the world’s largest multitechnology, testing, evaluation and demonstration sites in the world. Out in this simultaneously experimental and functional sea of solar panels, eight companies employing a variety of technologies are generating 23 megawatts of power.

Through its strategy as an alternative energy proving ground, the Solar Zone brings university researchers together with industry to address these very real-world challenges. Such partnering not only powers innovation, it is one of the core tenets of the UA’s Never Settle strategic plan.

The Solar Zone is a working laboratory for University of Arizona researchers – with the capability of monitoring how multiple types of technologies perform side by side under identical operating conditions. University researchers are testing everything from solar power forecasting to the environmental impact of solar energy installations.

This is where ideas can move from proof of concept and prototype testing to incubating a startup company and launching a new product – all with the help and support of Tech Parks Arizona.

Not everything about solar energy is cutand-dried, good and green. A solar photovoltaic system might not seem so green if you’re the neighbor next to a square mile solar farm that turns into a heat island at night. And it now appears that the blindingly bright desert sun might not even be the best place for solar production. Two groups of University of Arizona scientists working out of the UA Tech Park say there was a lack of solid research on those aspects of solar farming, so they are using the Solar Zone to research the interaction of environment and solar energy production. 112 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Clouds Blowing in the Wind Not surprisingly, solar electric production plunges when clouds obscure sunlight. So, accurately predicting cloud cover minute to minute could be of great value to power companies, said Alex Cronin, associate professor in the UA College of Science Department of Physics. Electrical utilities must have the capacity to make up for momentary variations in power generated by a solar plant that occur with changes between bright sky and cloud cover, he said. “From individual (residential) rooftop photovoltaic systems I have seen solar power generation drop 50 percent in

three seconds from a thick cloud passing by at the speed of the wind,” Cronin said. “The variation in power generation when clouds pass by is also very dramatic for large utility-scale systems. “In short, if we are going to take solar power generation to its next evolution, we must develop a much better understanding of the close relationship between the performance of solar power generation systems and the environment where they do their work.” Optimal Temperatures for Solar While it’s obvious solar energy production only works when the sun is out, and multiacre solar panel and collector farms

continued on page 113 >>>

Solar Zone The Solar Zone is one of the largest multitechnology solar testing, evaluation and demonstration sites in the world. It provides a single location for all elements of solar energy including generation and distribution; research and development; assembly and manufacturing; product development; testing and evaluation; training for a suitability-minded workforce; and public education, outreach and demonstration. “It’s testing and evaluating different kinds of solar generation and how you integrate that into the utility grid and manage environmental factors,” said Ken Marcus, director of the UA Tech Park. Phase 1 of the Solar Zone – a joint venture between the UA and Tucson Electric Power – is nearing completion, with eight companies generating 23 megawatts of power. For Phase 2, the focus is on new solar and renewable technologies that need to be tested and introduced to the marketplace, particularly in energy storage. “We’re reaching out to companies that have new technologies in storage to convince them they should move the technology to the park for testing,” Wright said. continued on page 114 >>>


continued from page 111 mentors-in-residence. Companies that have participated in AzCI programs have attracted grant funding, investments and employees, and established new products in the marketplace contributing to the local economy. AzCI serves as the Interactive Gound for startups, creating a rich and diverse culture that inspires and encourages further innovation. The center provides opportunities for startups and emerging companies to access the resources and connections new ventures need to move forward. “We recently updated our programs and facilities to create a dynamic environment that inspires, encourages and empowers entrepreneurs to transform their startups and emerging companies into successful and sustainable companies,” said Anita Bell, acting director of AzCI. “We are focused on providing the best support possible for each individual company.” AzCI is an established and integral component of the region’s entrepreneur ecosystem. It is an active member of the National Business Incubator Association and a founding member of the Arizona Business Incubation Association. AzCI was launched in 2003, and its extended history and partnerships enables it to bring proven best practices to the companies and community it serves.

continued from page 112 could have some effect on adjoining properties, other less obvious concerns are worth a look, said Nathan S. Allen, assistant staff scientist and sustainability coordinator at the UA’s Biosphere 2. For instance, the brightest places may not be the best. Like most electronic devices, photovoltaic panels perform better and more efficiently at lower temperatures, Allen said. So, counterintuitive as it might seem, if the amount of sunlight remains equal, cool Colorado might be better for making power from the sun than sizzling Arizona. The already higher ambient temperatures of the desert might reduce the efficiency – and return on investment – for solar systems in hotter environments. And the “heat island” effect – the retention and delayed release of heat by man-made materials – could be bad news for neighbors living next to massive solar systems, Allen said. “Basically, the work we are doing is a response to concerns about rapid development of solar-generation farms in the area. A number of local neighborhood associations and environmental groups raised concerns about heat islanding and there wasn’t any research. Measuring ‘Heat Island’ Effect “The Tech Park, with a variety of sizes of solar systems, is providing a good laboratory for measuring heat islanding effects,” Allen said.

He’s is working with Greg BarronGafford, assistant professor in the UA School of Geography and Development, to find answers to some of the questions about heat island effects. Working with the Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park is great, he said. “The site has large tracts of solar and also large tracts of undisturbed desert, as well as parking lots and buildings. We set up monitoring in those different areas.” Barron-Gafford said he and Allen went into the project not just wondering whether the solar installation would create a solar heat island, but also whether the heat island effect really matters. The questions being considered, Barron-Gafford said, included “How big is that island?” and “Would any heat island reach far enough outside the installation to have a detectable effect in those neighboring areas?” Allen said, “From a human-environment perspective, this is a great chance to think about how we want more renewable energy in our domestic portfolio, but these questions about the impacts come up.” So far Allen and Barron-Gafford have a year’s data from the project at the Solar Zone, Allen said. While they have yet to complete and publish their findings, what they learn will surely affect our perspectives on how – and where – to take the future of solar energy generation.


Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 113

BizINNOVATION continued from page 113 Other areas of focus are next-generation solar, such as integrating solar generation into the skin of a building, the roof of a car or even clothing fabric. “We have whole groups of faculty across campus working in the area of renewable and solar energy, so there is a lot of connectivity with the university,” Wright said. Read more about leading edge solar research on page 112. Security Innovation Hub The Security Innovation Hub is an initiative that supports new and existing border security technologies, focusing on Southern Arizona’s growing industry and UA research strengths around homeland defense and border security technologies. “We’ve been working with a group in the College of Engineering to put together rapid- response teams – because many times federal government or civilian companies will put out an RFP and they want a quick response to evaluate that technology,” said Molly Gilbert, director of university and community engagement, Tech Parks Arizona. “We’ll work with faculty and students to conduct third-party analysis of these systems.” In addition to independent thirdparty testing, the initiative focuses on connecting the broader industry to the UA Center for Excellence in Border Security and Immigration funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the new UA Defense and Security Research Institute. The hub initiative is a natural effort to take advantage of the university’s strategic location near the U.S.-Mexico

border and strategic military installations. Capitalizing on the university’s strengths, the region’s security sector is growing – with more than 50 border technology companies currently operating in or near Tucson. “We are a border community and we have strengths in this area,” Wright said. “This also not only brings the technology forward for economic development, but addresses this concern about border security while allowing legitimate trade

We see opportunities through the tech parks to provide critical infrastruture for advanced manufacturing

– Bruce A. Wright Associate VP, Tech Parks Arizona

to move across the border. “The big question is how to solve what appears to be an inherent conflict between legitimate free trade and the ability to interdict the bad guys or drugs being brought across the border. This has huge impact on Tucson and Southern Arizona.” Read more about leading edge security research on page 115.

Advanced Manufacturing Hub As the demand for cutting-edge materials in fields such as biological sciences and nanotechnology increases, the role of manufacturing in the U.S. economy is shifting. The Obama administration has undertaken a number of initiatives intended to support advanced manufacturing in the United States. Tech Parks Arizona is taking steps to leverage this movement and position the Tucson region as a hub for making the tomorrow’s products and materials. “We want to be part of that as a university, and as a community. We see opportunities through the Tech Parks to provide critical infrastructure for advanced manufacturing,” Wright said. The foundation of the Advanced Manufacturing Hub has begun to take shape, with the UA receiving a planning grant from the federal government to put together a regional strategy over the next year, with the goal of positioning Southern Arizona to participate in this next-generation business. Then, with partners from Yuma, Ariz. to Las Cruces, N.M., the coalition could submit a proposal to get federal designation as an advanced manufacturing region. “Our planning process is going forward, pointing toward certain technological areas and the supply chains necessary to support an advanced manufacturing effort,” Wright said. By identifying supply chains that provide the exact manufacturing expertise and are in alignment with the university’s research strengths, Tech Parks Arizona is one step closer to creating an advanced manufacturing hub that can respond to market needs and ultimately generate a greater economic impact for the region.



114 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Testing the Limits By Dan Sorenson Trying to test or evaluate a modern border security or military weapons system with tools made for machines from an earlier time is like servicing a Formula One race car with a Model T tool kit. “If you’re the Department of Defense, maybe you’re used to testing missiles. That’s fine. But security and defense technology is so much broader today,” said Ricardo Valerdi, associate professor of systems and industrial engineering in the University of Arizona College of Engineering. “It’s now cybersystems, robotics or drones – things emerging so quickly that you can’t predict behavior, response or failure of the technology. There’s so much more intelligence in these products that traditional testing methods do not work.”

In world of high-tech advances, university researchers play a critical role. Technology concepts need to be tested and validated before they can be developed into products for the market – which is especially important when that market is defense and security. University of Arizona experts evaluate these ever-evolving technologies, not just in the laboratory but also out in the real environment.

The testing and evaluation of new technologies is an essential focus as academics, companies and government agencies collaborate to develop these technologies and sculpt them to address today’s challenges – and tomorrow’s as well.

It’s now cybersystems, robotics or drones. There’s so much more intelligence in these products that traditional testing methods do not work.

– Ricardo Valerdi Associate Professor College of Engineering The University of Arizona

Valerdi is the developer of testing and validation methods for the Security Innovation Hub, which Tech Parks Arizona established to provide independent thirdparty testing, demonstration and evaluation for border, defense and security technologies. The Security Innovation Hub serves as a connection point where

researchers like Valerdi are developing testing and evaluation methodologies for new and existing technologies to validate their effectiveness outside a controlled environment such as a laboratory. “We have the capability at the UA Tech Park to test these technologies in an outdoor environment. Instead of just testing them in a lab, researchers can test proposed technologies in the field with reallife conditions, like wind, rain, sun and interferences from radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields. This provides industry and governmental agencies with the benefit of seeing the technology demonstrated in action. “The basic idea is if you have a system that has an unlimited combo of configurations, you can’t test all possible configurations. You have to do smarter testing, combinations most likely to break the system. You want to break the system as soon as you can.” “Right now a lot of it is about cybersecurity – hackers. But it could be applied to unmanned aerial vehicles, drones – any system that has software. Not only do we have the technology to do the testing, but the methodologies. And smarter means less expensive. We want to build a methodology that becomes smarter over time.”

Biz www. BizTuc-

Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 115


Robots & Solar Go-Karts By Mary Minor Davis The mission, should the team choose to accept For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and it, is to construct a robot that can carry out a seTechnology – is an organization that develops a ries of actions, both on its own and controlled new game each year where teams of 25 or more by a team of operators, to compete in a complex students must build a robot that can actively pergame in a carefully constructed arena. Points are form the actions in the game specifications. awarded. Competitors are eliminated in each seTeams have six weeks to build complicated ries, and alliances are formed as the competition robots, a process that requires not only a deep draws to its final conclusion with one robot winunderstanding of engineering and technical ning the battle. principles, but also the know-how to apply them While this may sound like an outline for a to real-world problems. They must develop a business plan and raise money to offset the nearly high-tech Hollywood sci-fi thriller, it is actually the basis for the FIRST Robotics Competition, $15,000 required for materials, registration and travel fees to partician international competition in which students pate in the regional in grades 9 through 12 competition. employ STEM – sciAdams said Caterence, technology, enpillar has generously gineering and math – committed to sponsoring the costs of one concepts, formulas and regional competition principles to construct and operate robots that each year, with the meet the challenge. UA Tech Park providThe program is one of ing a workshop for the two high school STEM team to use to build projects supported by their robot. Employees Tech Parks Arizona. from Raytheon MisMolly Gilbert, direcsile Systems, IBM and tor of university and other Tech Park tenengagecommunity ants volunteer as men– Molly Gilbert ment for Tech Parks Artors for each group of Director of University and izona, said supporting competitors. Community Engagement STEM projects makes “The whole thing is Tech Park Arizona based on teamwork, good business sense. “We look at this as strategy and cooperapart of workforce development for the region,” tion,” Adams said. “Our goal is to build relationshe said. “For our employers here at the Tech ships and to give kids exposure to a STEM enviPark, a large part of their success is dependent ronment that is fun and competitive. I think we on the ability to attract quality talent. We believe accomplish this very well.” Tiffini Tobiasson, a recent graduate of Vail that by supporting these types of programs, we Academy and High School who has participated can help spark interest in STEM careers.” in the program for four years, including serving The FIRST Robotics Competition was started as co-captain for a year, couldn’t agree more. in 1992 to provide a platform for “smart people This fall, she will attend the Illinois Institute of to compete,” according to Don Adams, an inTechnology on a full scholarship, studying chemstructor at Vail Academy and High School and ical or mechanical engineering with a minor in the robotics team coach. FIRST – which means continued on page 118 >>>


The approach we’re taking is not just telling kids these are good careers, but showing them why they are. And there’s fun involved too.

116 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Summer 2014 > > > BizTucson 117



The BoxerBots placed third in the FIRST Robotics Competition 2014, Aerial Assist. Aerial Assist, the name of this year’s game, combines the two features of the game: obtaining assist points by passing the yoga ball to other robots and then launching the ball into the air for even more points. continued from page 116 business administration. “The FIRST robotics program and team have been my inspiration for life,” Tobiasson said. “Before I joined the team I knew nothing about what I wanted to do. But after joining I fell in love with the people, the lessons and the principles. I learned the principles of engineering and this is where I found my place. “I have always loved to make things, but I never really thought that I could make a career out of it until I joined the team. I know that I will always be involved in FIRST because it stands for so much more than just building robots. It teaches confidence.” In addition to the robotics competition, Tech Parks Arizona initiated Racing the Sun, a solar go-kart race now in its third year. It’s held at the Mussleman Honda Circuit facility near the Pima County Fairgrounds. Michael Keck is a teacher at Cienega and the coach for the solar go-kart club. Utilizing STEM applications, he said, students construct a solar-powered vehicle, incorporating solar panels do118 BizTucson


Summer 2014

nated by Global Solar, a local solar panel employer. Racing the Sun competitors must also develop a business plan, a budget, a marketing and public relations plan, and fundraising goals. As part of the annual race, they are also required to make a presentation to a panel of judges. For the first two years, three teams from Tucson participated. After promoting the competition during the annual Association for Career Technical Education of Arizona conference last year, Tech Parks Arizona opened registration statewide and participation increased with nine total teams participating in the race. In Tucson, the race drew teams from Canyon del Oro, Cienega, Rincon/ University, Sabino and Santa Rita high schools. Phoenix-area high schools that competed were Desert Vista, Dysart, Ironwood, McClintock and Shadow Ridge. “What makes it fun for me is seeing the light bulb go off with these kids once they solve a ratio or understand the relationship between the mechanics of the vehicle, the design, weight and

speed,” Keck said. “The project drives the learning.” Gilbert added, “When I was in high school, no one was showing me what it looked like to be an engineer or a scientist, so I didn’t know what it meant to do those kinds of jobs. I didn’t like math and I knew engineering required a lot of math – but if someone had shown me what it was like to be an engineer, that might have changed my perspective. That’s part of what we’re trying to do with these programs. “The approach we’re taking is not just telling kids these are good careers, but showing them why they are. And there’s fun involved, too.” For the community, programs like these help feed into larger workforce development goals and create better jobs, Gilbert said. They also support Tucson’s mission to train and retain high-tech talent and become a hightech city. “We need to have the employee base to attract those companies,” Gilbert said. “Programs that inspire like these help foster that goal.”



120 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Summer Spring 2014 > > > BizTucson 121

122 BizTucson


Summer 2014

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

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