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Featured left to right: Neil Simon, Partner, Venture West; Ray Woosley, PhD, President, AzCERT; Thomas Koch, Roche Tissue Diagnostics; David Hutchens, President and CEO, Tucson Electric Power; Carol Stewart, Associate Vice President, Tech Parks Arizona, University of Arizona; Robert C. Robbins, MD, President, University of Arizona; Paul August, PhD, Vice President of Biology, Icagen, Inc.; Elizabeth Cantwell, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research and Innovation, University of Arizona; Joseph C. Winfield, Mayor, Town of Oro Valley; Chuck Huckleberry, County Administrator, Pima County; Joe Snell, President and CEO, Sun Corridor Inc.

The University of Arizona broke ground on a new incubator focused on bioscience startups September 4, with nearly 300 people in attendance. The incubator, UA Center for Innovation at Oro Valley, will provide space and business incubation programs for nascent life science businesses to develop their technology and business.

The facility will offer laboratories, shared equipment and customized business development curriculum led by the UA Center for Innovation. This new facility will fill a gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem directly related to supporting bioscience discoveries and translating them into marketable technologies.  

"The innovation ecosystem plays a large role in the fourth industrial revolution,” said UA President Robbins, in a statement. “Supporting startups is not one specific event, it is an entire continuum. It begins by encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit from the beginning, advancing research to the point of scientific breakthrough, identifying markets for the new technology, supporting and launching businesses, building corporate connections and thus beginning the cycle all over again to support new ventures. The Ventana Medical Systems founded by Dr. Thomas Grogan, a University of Arizona pathologist, and sold to pharmaceutical giant Roche embodies that innovation continuum. Building on that momentum, we are thrilled to develop the UA incubator in Oro Valley.”

With resources secured and an operator established, the UA Center for Innovation at Oro will serve the bioscience entrepreneurial community with the construction of the new facility beginning in October. Roughly 4,000 square feet of office and lab space will be developed with room for expansion. The site is located near several Oro Valley’s bioscience companies, including Roche Tissue Diagnostics, and headquartered in Innovation Park.

“Surrounded by the world-class expertise, we will help companies, start, grow and scale rapidly—setting a pace for technological advancement that will be seen worldwide,” said Carol Stewart, Associate Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona and President for UA Center for Innovation, in a release. “This new UA Center for Innovation at Oro Valley outpost is a vital component in our innovation ecosystem. It will provide the platform for entrepreneurs to connect with industry experts and business coaches to specifically meet their individual company needs.”

The UA Center for Innovation at Oro Valley will provide the space required to conduct educational and training programs for translational scientists in Southern Arizona and for those working to convert research findings into new products and services. Educational programs will enable hands-on support during the critical early phase of product development and include direct interaction with experts who have experience in the successful development of bioscience products. A Science Advisory Committee comprised of original board of directors is currently in formation and includes bioscience organizations/companies, developers, startup funders, municipalities and other experts who worked to bring the incubator into existence.

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