In 2002, the state of Arizona, with millions in financial support from the Flinn Foundation, created the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap. The roadmap was a 10-year plan for fostering growth in the biosciences, with the ultimate goal of making the state globally competitive in this high-tech industry.
In April, the Flinn foundation plans to release an update to that plan.
“We will take what we’ve learned; we’ll now make more targeted actions that we will take”, said Ron Shoopman, vice chair of the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee and president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council.
Currently in the United States, Boston, Los Angeles and San Diego are bioscience leaders.
“We are not in their league,” said Ray Woosley, another steering committee member and president of AzCERT. That, he said, is “because we are a very young state. They’ve been at this for 150 years, developing the medical expertise, the medical research the life sciences need to have at their core.”
But, he also said, “We are now on the field.”
Shoopman said the bioscience sector in Arizona generates $29 billion annually, and contributes $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenue.
“This is a very important, high impact industry with great potential for the future”, he said.
And, it is one he said we need to grow over in the long-term.
Bioscience Growth in Tucson
One major player in bioscience research and development is the UA.
Jennifer Kehlet Barton, interim vice president for research, said the UA plans to double research expenditures in the next ten years and to create business, licensing and commercialization opportunities for researchers.
When asked if the roadmap has led the kinds of research conducted at the university, Kehlet Barton responded that the situation is more synergistic.
“There’s expertise that we have here. I think the roadmap reflected our expertise and our expertise and growing reflects the roadmap," she said. "So it is really been a partnership all along the way.”