A blue-chip committee of prominent scientific, economic development, and policy leaders has been formed to oversee the implementation of a long-term plan to propel Arizona to national bioscience stature. The panel, to be chaired by Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza and hosted by the Flinn Foundation, will meet Friday for the first time.
Known as the Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, the 40-member group is comprised of elected officials and statewide leaders from higher education, business, economic development, research institutes and hospitals, government agencies, and the governor’s office. The mayors of Tucson and Flagstaff are participating to ensure development of a statewide biosciences corridor.
Mayor Rimsza played a vital role in the successful recruitment of the International Genomics Consortium (IGC) to Phoenix in 2002, as well as the establishment of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). The City of Phoenix has provided major financial support and space in downtown Phoenix for the genomics groups, and recently broke ground on the Phoenix Bioscience Center at Copper Square.
“I am extremely honored the Flinn Foundation has asked me to serve as chairman of such a groundbreaking committee,” Rimsza said. “With the emergence of IGC and TGen, together with the support of business and civic leaders, the state of Arizona will become the southwestern epicenter of bioscience.”
John W. Murphy, executive director of the Flinn Foundation, which is staffing the Bioscience Roadmap committee, said: “We are pleased that Mayor Rimsza has agreed to lend his leadership skills to help build this essential component of Arizona’s knowledge industry. Thanks to his leadership and determination, the emerging bioscience center in downtown Phoenix is a reality, and promises to become a thriving focal point for statewide growth and economic development.”
Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap is a 10-year strategy to advance the competitiveness of the state’s bioscience enterprise. The plan was produced in 2002 for the state by the Technology Partnership Practice division of the Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development firm, commissioned by a Flinn Foundation grant.
Battelle’s comprehensive study concluded that Arizona has superior strengths in three scientific area – bioengineering, cancer research, and neurological sciences. These disciplines could achieve world-class prominence if nurtured and developed over the next five years.
Three workgroups were established in early 2003 to develop scientific platforms in these disciplines. Three additional workgroups were formed around the economic development issues of capital formation, facilities, and entrepreneurial assistance. The six workgroups will present their recommendations to the steering committee in the fall.
The steering committee is charged with working to stimulate a business environment in Arizona that will lead to growth in the biosciences and the emerging knowledge industry, and to seek ways to encourage new and innovative partnerships. The committee will meet three times a year, beginning with Friday’s initial organizational meeting.
The Flinn Foundation is a private, nonprofit, philanthropic endowment that supports the advancement of the biosciences in Arizona, as well as the arts and the Flinn Scholars program for undergraduate education at Arizona’s public universities.