Bioscience

Flagstaff high-tech business incubator celebrates opening

December 2, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

In Arizona’s coldest major city, a hothouse for high-technology is turning novel ideas into new businesses.

The Northern Arizona Center for Emerging Technologies (NACET) held its grand opening Nov. 17 at the new 10,000 square-foot facility on McMillan Mesa in Flagstaff that will serve as its headquarters. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano joined Northern Arizona University administrators and researchers, local elected officials, and regional business and civic leaders to celebrate NACET’s successful launch and meet the high-technology business incubatorincubator: An entity designed to nurture business concepts or new technologies to the point that they become attractive to venture capitalists.‘s first clients.

“I think in Arizona we have seen why it is that we must continue to plant the seeds of diversifying (our economy) so that we are not overly dependent on one industry such as construction,” Gov. Napolitano said in the Arizona Daily Sun. “One of our chief goals is to keep improving education, workforce development, and projects such as NACET right here in Flagstaff–to keep diversifying the economy and to do it outside of Maricopa County.”

NACET’s opening is the culmination of years of work by officials from NAU and the City of Flagstaff, as well as the local business and investment community. Backers hope that the incubatorincubator: An entity designed to nurture business concepts or new technologies to the point that they become attractive to venture capitalists., which has seven initial tenant companies and five other affiliated start-up companies, will serve as the region’s “economic breadbasket,” as NAU President John Haeger predicted in the Daily Sun.

Lavelle McCoy, the president and CEO of Flagstaff’s McCoy Motors, and chair of NACET’s board of directors, has worked on bringing NACET into existence over the past eight years. He pointed to the promise of the companies that are initially working with NACET.

“This is more than just a facility,” McCoy said in the Daily Sun. “The facility is an instrument. What really matters is what we are going to accomplish going forward.”

Among NACET’s current tenants are two bioscience firms. SenesTech Inc., founded by NAU researcher Loretta Mayer, is developing, among other products, ContraPest, an environmentally neutral chemical to control rodent populations responsible for widespread devastation of rice crops, a primary staple for more than half the world’s population.

Algae Biosciences Corp. (ABC) is pursuing development of algae-based products across multiple fields–from biofuels and nanostructures to fish food and vaccines. Its initial products include an Omega-3 fatty-acid nutritional supplement that ABC says boasts far greater quality than fish-oil derived Omega-3 supplements.

Additional tenants include several firms concentrating on alternative energy and energy efficiency, and others specializing in sustainable development.

In addition to providing space for young companies, NACET is managing NAU Ventures, the technology-transfer commercialization program for NAU.


For more information:

New small-business center ready to hatch,” Arizona Daily Sun, 11/19/2008