Yesterday, more than 300 leaders from around the state gathered virtually to discuss Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the progress we’ve made in the last two decades, and how innovation zones and collaborative efforts will increase the pace of investment in this vital sector of our economy.
The agility of bioscience related businesses and organizations was put to the test by the pandemic, as hospitals and health care workers were pushed to the brink by soaring admission rates and lack of essential equipment. Meanwhile, many of our local entities quickly shifted gears to meet the moment:
Scientists at TGen North developed an early test for COVID-19 and teamed up with POBA Medical to produce about 10,000 testing kits per month.
The Pathogen and Microbiome Institute at Northern Arizona University repurposed its existing biodefense research to create a COVID-19 Testing Service Center where researchers grew the virus and tested new drugs against it.
W.L. Gore & Associates worked with manufacturers to produce washable isolation hospital gowns and engineered new respirators, face shields and N95 masks, donating these desperately needed items throughout the community.
Northern Arizona has always been a big part of the state’s bioscience story, and we were pleased to debut a video about the vibrancy of our local sector at yesterday’s meeting. You can view by clicking the image below.
(Many thanks to the people and businesses that made this video possible, including the Flinn Foundation, NAU Innovations, the City of Flagstaff and videographer Victor Vongspath, as well as all the participants who appeared.)
The Bioscience Roadmap is a long-term strategic plan originally commissioned by the Flinn Foundation in 2002 and updated in 2014 with the goal of making Arizona globally competitive and a national leader in the bioscience sector by 2025.
We are well on our way to making those goals a reality, according to Eve Ross, the chair of the Bioscience Roadmap’s Steering Committee and a former executive at W.L. Gore. “As we near the 20-year mark in our bioscience initiative, it’s eye-opening to look at how we’ve developed into a robust industry cluster,” she said.
For example, since the initiative began in 2002, the state’s bioscience and health industry has grown by more than 800 companies and 55,000 jobs. These jobs typically pay one-third more than the average private-sector position. Meanwhile, research funding and venture capital for new bioscience firms has increased dramatically. In 2019, the last year figures are available, venture capital funding for bioscience firms hit a record of $198 million, even as funding nationally declined.
Keeping this pace going as we rebuild our post-pandemic economy is one of the many goals of the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona. We are fortunate to have a rich infrastructure in place capable of fostering developments in this field, including a supportive and invested local government, a top-notch research university, the Moonshot at NACET entrepreneurial program and a wide array of innovative businesses that are leading the way in the bioscience sector.