Arizona is well-positioned to become nationally competitive in the biosciences arena but must improve its university research funding base and create a stronger entrepreneurial culture.
This conclusion emerges from a lengthy list of strengths and weaknesses identified in the 2002 Battelle Memorial Institute study of the biosciences in Arizona, commissioned by the Flinn Foundation. The findings emerged from numerous interviews and focus groups with industry leaders in the state, extensive research, and economic analyses.
According to the study, the state’s strengths include:
- A small but rapidly expanding biosciences economic base that is outpacing national growth trends.
- State and regional leadership becoming more engaged in and supportive of the biosciences.
- A strong history of entrepreneurship.
- A biosciences environment that is conducive to development due to brisk population growth, affordability, access to resources, and proximity to California and Mexico.
- A perceived high quality of life.
- A reputation as a major player in basic research, primarily in the physical sciences and ecology.
- Several state-initiated funding programs for the biosciences.
- A robust community college system that is focused on meeting bioscience workforce needs.
The weakness cited include:
- A private-sector base that is not heavily concentrated in the biosciences.
- Perception of a low-performing K-12 system.
- University research funding growth that is slowing in the last five years while state support for universities has decreased.
- University bioscience research efforts lagging the nation.
- Universities lacking a strong tradition of commercializing technology, encouraging entrepreneurship among faculty, or partnering with local companies.
- The state currently lacking the essential ingredients for a bioscience entrepreneurial culture.
- A lack of bioscience-focused venture capital and angel investors.
- Few economic development assistance programs.
- A tax structure that is not favorable for the development of a technology-based economy.
- A severe state budget shortfall.
- Business service providers that are not as strongly specialized in the biosciences as other states.
- Not being known as a high-tech center.
- Lack of a skilled workforce to serve the biosciences industry.
- Insufficient wet-lab space.
To view the Battelle report, click here.