In this edition of the Tech Focus Member Spotlight, Carol Stewart, Associate Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona at the University of Arizona, discusses the role and impact of the Tech Parks and recent progress made at the University of Arizona Center for Innovation (UACI) and the UA Tech Park at The Bridges. In her role, Stewart leads the Tech Parks economic development initiatives focused and aligned with the specializations at the University.
Tech Parks Arizona develops purpose-built environments where emerging businesses and tech giants work side by side. The UA Tech Park is home to established companies, like IBM, and a growing number of startups who have found a home and support at UACI. Stewart notes, “There are 6,000 knowledge workers and over 65 companies located in 2 million square feet of lab, office and technology space.” It is an important economic driver for the region.
In the 2019 trend report, the Tech Park represented a $2 billion a year annual economic impact in Arizona. Stewart adds, “Those 6,000 knowledge workers have an average salary that is approximately $20,000 higher than the average Pima county wage. We (Tech Parks) are considered a major employment hub for Southern Arizona.”
The impact of the UA Tech Park has steadily grown annually over the span of 25 years. As an outpouring of that growth, construction began on a second park – UA Tech Park at The Bridges. Development is well underway for The Refinery too. The first building of many, broke ground in February 2020 and is set to open the fall of 2021. In addition, UACI is expanding regionally as well with a new bioscience incubator space which opened in Oro Valley in December 2020. Steward adds, “Collaboration drives our success. It is the large- and medium-sized companies at the Park that collaborate with the University. It fundamental to any university-related research and technology park. Whether (the companies) are hiring graduates or offering experiential learning opportunities for interns to industry-sponsored research and collaborative innovation with our tenants, partners and startups, the incubator is the heartbeat of any research and tech park. And, we have grown that network in Southern Arizona to a level that has not been experienced before.”