‘Star’ series focuses on science economy

September 25, 2003

By hammersmith

The Arizona Daily Star has published a three-part, seven-article special report entitled “Tech Transformation,” describing the successes, hopes, needs, and challenges associated with establishing a science-based technology economy in the Tucson area. The series, written by staff writers Inger Sandal and David Wichner, profiles the people, places, issues, and ideas that are shaping the future of the region, with an eye toward the work that remains to be done.

Part I: Saving the economy through science” explores the University of Arizona’s great potential for transforming Tucson’s future, but only if significant action is taken right now to build on the university’s strengths and address its undermining weaknesses. It also covers the need for increased investment in fledgling companies by local businesses and investors, and for correcting current problems in state and local government that limit technology transfer.

He’s an entrepreneur in action” profiles Stuart Williams, one of UA’s most entrepreneurial faculty members. Williams has conducted research into such diverse fields as glaucoma, virus and bacteria sterilization, human tissue growth, and surgical instruments. Boasting 50 disclosed inventions, a dozen patents, and his own business, he also mentors faculty and students in patenting and marketing their ideas.

Five researchers to watch” lists the work of five significant UA researchers, in diverse fields including cancer therapeutics and early detection, asthma genetics, cold atom research, and fiber-composite material science. The article also gives a brief forecast of where each scientist’s research could lead in the future.

Part II: Arizona is making money commitment” is a bird’s-eye view of life sciences spending in both Arizona and Tucson, including an examination of the potential fiscal and community investment that will be required for Arizona’s biosciences initiative to be successful. The article provides a variety of estimates and opinions of these present and future commitments.

Tucson, Phoenix are partners” highlights the increasingly necessary collaboration between Arizona’s two largest cities, painting a picture of Interstate 10 as a corridor uniting Tucson and Phoenix into a 4.5 million-person metroplex. Collaboration is a necessity if Arizona is to remain competitive in the nationwide bioscience marketplace.

Part III: Planting the seeds” goes into greater depth in examining what is needed to ensure the continued growth of science technology in the region. Particular attention is paid to: the various types of venture capital dollars needed for the various stages of a biotech business; the need for well-structured incubators; and the problems posed by Tucson’s current lack of wet-lab space and support staff.

Oro Valley becomes an upscale tech mecca” profiles the Oro Valley area of Tucson, once thought of as a retirement community but now emerging as an upper-middle-class suburb. The area is used to illustrate the transformative effect that tech transfer can have on an area; established companies are moving to Oro Valley, and their employees are following suit.