Canon links with UA, looks to tech park

September 1, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Jack Gillum, Arizona Daily Star] – Imaging giant Canon USA Inc. is negotiating a lease to establish a research-and-development center at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park, UA officials said.

The center would be home to research under a new collaboration between Canon, a global maker of computer and digital-imaging equipment; and the UA’s College of Optical Sciences. The deal also comes with a $3 million research grant for the university.

It also would add another major high-tech tenant to the tech park at 9000 S. Rita Road. The park already is home to IBM Corp., Raytheon Missile Systems and General Dynamics.

“It’s a huge deal,” said Bob Breault, chairman of Breault Research. Four decades ago, “the hope was that we’d get a Kodak or a Canon to set up shop in Tucson. Now we do.”

Few details were available this week, but Canon will be focusing its research on digital photography and medical imaging, said Gary Esham, associate dean of the Optical Sciences College.

The agreement, he said, “brings in dollars to do collaborative work” with the university and faculty. Esham said Canon will initially employ seven people at the park.

The work will include collaborations between Canon and UA faculty members on early-stage development of optics and imaging technologies. It’s that faculty connection, Esham said, that made Canon seek out the UA, not the other way around.

“The fact is that this is a research effort, and that is usually the front end of anything that’s going on,” said Suzanne Gerdes, co-chair of the Arizona Optics Industry Association, an optics trade group. “It’s nice to be recognized that the research capabilities are here.”

The Canon announcement was discussed at an Arizona Board of Regents meeting earlier this month in Flagstaff. UA Vice Provost for Research Leslie P. Tolbert, who discussed the plan in Flagstaff, called the prospect of the imaging company coming “very exciting” for the UA and for Tucson.

A Canon spokeswoman said the company was not yet ready to release details of the program.

UA tech park spokeswoman Molly Gilbert confirmed that the park is in negotiations with Canon but said a lease has not been finalized.

? Contact reporter Jack Gillum at 573-4178 or at