Bioscience Roadmap plans turn to action

March 25, 2003

By hammersmith

A 10-year strategy to propel Arizona to national biosciences prominence entered the implementation phase in early 2003. Dubbed Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, the project focuses this year on forming statewide working groups to begin developing short- and long-term strategies to implement the actions proposed during the completed research phase.

The Roadmap, directed by the Battelle Memorial Institute Technology Partnership Practice and commissioned by the Flinn Foundation, began in April 2002 and continued throughout the year with an information-gathering and analysis stage. This culminated in a proposed series of strategies and action steps that were announced publicly in December 2002.

The study concluded that Arizona has the necessary ingredients to become a national leader in this fastest-growing segment of the economy. But following through involves extensive investment in the state’s research infrastructure. The Roadmap plan, if followed, estimates that 32,000 direct and indirect jobs and 120 new firms would be generated over the next 10 years. A conservative return of $6 for every dollar invested with the intent of leveraging outside funding is also anticipated.

“The completion of Battelle’s first phase was an essential and enormous task, creating a well-positioned, carefully orchestrated strategic plan,” said Rick Weddle, President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and member of the Battelle Steering Committee. “It was a collaborative effort of diverse public and private individuals and institutions, and that is significant. We look forward to supporting Battelle’s continued progress.”

The second phase, continuing throughout 2003, will involve three primary areas of focus:

Develop research platforms: The Roadmap recommends that Arizona focus its resources on three disciplines where it already has significant national prominence: neurosciences, cancer therapeutics, and bioengineering. It suggests that Arizona can become a world-class leader in these areas within five years. This is preferable to attempting to excel in a broader range of disciplines, thereby diluting the impact. The Roadmap also cites additional areas of research excellence that could be addressed given resources and opportunity.

The Battelle team will work with university- and community-based researchers to develop detailed plans in each of these areas, and also provide additional specific data on each platform area.

Explore an Arizona research alliance: Arizona’s future endeavors in the biosciences could be overseen by a private-public alliance. This entity’s structure, relationship to existing organizations, and the respective roles for the public and private sectors requires thorough and thoughtful assessment.

Enhance economic “tool kit”: The Roadmap recommends that the state undertake a few non-funded, near-term steps to make Arizona’s entrepreneurial culture more attractive to bioscience firms. This involves updating the state’s tax code to create a level playing field for bioscience firms; enhancing university technology-transfer efforts by enabling faculty to take equity ownership positions in their discoveries; establishing technology zones around concentrations of bioscience and other tech industries; and exploring collaborative opportunities. 

The Battelle study is supported by grants from the Flinn Foundation for the benefit of Arizona. The first phase was funded by a grant of $400,000; the second by a grant of $350,000. The process is overseen by a Steering Committee of statewide bioscience and policy leaders from diverse public and private institutions.

Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle undertakes more than 4,500 projects annually for industry, higher education, the public sector, and others. Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice, which is responsible for this project, has extensive experience and knowledge in the development of biomedical and biotechnology strategies.

The Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation is a private, nonprofit, philanthropic trust founded by Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn with the mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona. In addition to the biosciences, the Foundation supports the Flinn Scholars program for undergraduate education at the state’s universities, and the arts.

More Information:

Flinn Foundation news release on Phase I, 12/3/02 

Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Brochure, December 2002  

Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Executive Summary, December 2002