Three recent developments show why the University of Arizona is an economic powerhouse that can attract businesses in search of high-tech property in Tucson.
Tucson has a powerful economic driver in the University of Arizona. It is the top employer in the region with nearly 11,300 employees. It is among the top 15 research universities in the country, producing more than $530 million in annual research.
Commercialization of faculty and research inventions have grown steady since the UA’s Tech Launch Arizona in 2013. Fifty-five startups have spun out of the university and over 1,000 invention disclosures and more than 400 licenses and options have been secured.
Three recent developments once again show how the university plays a crucial role in our local economic development, including raising demand for high-tech property in Tucson. What they do is concentrate high-demand innovation, making Tucson a research, development and manufacturing hub for several industries.
Drug Discovery Incubator
Connecting researchers in drug development with pharmaceutical manufacturers is hard. The university hopes to make that process easier through its new Arizona Center for Drug Discovery in its College of Pharmacy.
“Universities have outstanding disease and technology experts,” says the center’s interim director, Karen Lackey. “However, they often lack unified, streamlined resources to develop a drug.”
The center’s experts know how to develop new drugs and products. They will help assemble teams of faculty members and established scientists working on shared projects. The center will match these teams with pharmaceutical partners interested in their work, then assist in creating a research plan to deliver an effective medicine.
A synergy already exists in Tucson, which is home to many bio companies, including Icagen and Roche Tissue Diagnostics.
Official Solar-Energy Supporter
The UA Tech Park and the Arizona Center for Innovation are among 54 businesses, institutions and organizations who are supporting innovation in solar energy.
As a connector in the U.S. government’s American-Made Solar Prize competition, the university can provide to solar-energy innovators the testing facilities, business development mentoring and network of private investors and industry partners they need to succeed.
The aim is to increase the U.S. manufacturing capacity of solar-energy products to create American jobs in this growing industry. A series of competitions will bring the best ideas to market.
As a connector, the university is well-prepared to partner with inventors and entrepreneurs and move them move along in the competition, which rewards innovation with cash prizes.
The UA Tech Park, a well-developed high-tech property in Tucson, has the Solar Zone, one of the largest solar technology proving grounds in the United States. Entrepreneurs can evaluate different systems to hone their technologies.
Startups using the center’s services can get help developing business plans, have access to office space and labs and receive coaching from business experts.
Commercial Space Race
Tucson can become a major Southwest hub of the commercial space industry with the university at the helm. That’s the conclusion of “The Southern Arizona Space Ecosystem,” a Deloitte-generated report commissioned by the university and local economic development interests.
The results from the feasibility study recently was revealed to the Arizona Space Business Roundtable, a UA-sponsored gathering of supporters who want to strengthen Tucson’s presence in the industry. “Our analysis is meant to galvanize the region around targeted areas of the emerging commercial space market and serve as a roadmap for the future of space in Southern Arizona,” according to the presentation material.
Vector Launch and World View Enterprises are only two examples of space-related companies that have found appropriate high-tech property in Tucson. The important optics industry for space commercialization has a strong presence in Southern Arizona. Another local asset for space is the mining industry’s presence, both at the university and within the private sector such as Caterpillar Surface Mining and Technology and Hexagon Mining.
The university’s strong relationship with NASA and other government agencies has resulted in several space-related research projects.
The study suggests that “a more robust and expanded space-focused ecosystem in Southern Arizona” is feasible. It can foster research, development, manufacturing, services and sites in
• space situational awareness technology that tracks satellites and other manmade objects
• launch services and manufacturing
• metals, mining, minerals and resources
• enabling and supporting technologies.
A Southern Arizona commercial space ecosystem would help existing space companies grow while creating one point of contact—the university, for example—to meet the needs of companies and startups, the report suggests.
The next steps would be to take stock of facilities and resources that can develop related technologies in the region and formalize a mission that defines strengths, growth areas and activities to provide support.
Supporting High-Tech Space Demands
Tucson is ready to support companies that want to be part of the UA’s exciting activities. Infrastructure, tax incentives and business development support are available. Contact me to get the big picture and for your need for high-tech property in Tucson.
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