The University of Arizona on April 1 celebrated the grand opening of Tech Launch Arizona, a technology commercialization center established to help move University research innovations to market.
"We here at the University of Arizona are in the midst of what we hope to be a strategic transformation of our great University for the 21st century," UA President Ann Weaver Hart told those who gathered for the celebration at the University Services Annex building, the new home of the Tech Launch Arizona offices.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart discussed the value of "disruptive innovation" during Monday's Tech Launch Arizona grand opening. (Photo by Patrick McArdle/UANews)
"We know that it is critical for us to be able to attract the best and the brightest of our students, faculty and corporate partners, and that we will need to create new knowledge with new partners and in new places for us to be able to achieve the vision of the 21st-century land-grant University," Hart said.
Tech Launch Arizona – a presidential cabinet-level unit with oversight of the University's Office of Technology Transfer, Office of Corporate and Business Relations and the Office of University Research Parks – was created to help consolidate and amplify the University's efforts to move knowledge and inventions developed by UA researchers to market.
The Tech Launch Arizona strategic plan, or "roadmap" – introduced at Monday's event and available for download on the Tech Launch Arizona website – outlines key goals for the unit, including expediting the movement of UA research-derived intellectual property into the commercial sphere and promoting University engagement with private businesses.
The plan sets forth a vision in which the UA will serve, by the year 2020, as a nationally recognized resource for its role in integrating University-created knowledge into tangible economic and social benefits.
"For us its all about impact," said Tech Launch Arizona Executive Director David Allen at Monday's event.
The Tech Launch Arizona strategic plan focuses on three key "pathways to knowledge" for translating University research into products and services that benefit the public:
- Technology commercialization, which begins with transforming knowledge into intellectual property through patents, copyrights and trademarks
- Industry-sponsored research, involving partnerships between University researchers and commercial partners
- Greater integration between the UA and the University's technology parks, including the UA Tech Park and Bio Park
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spoke in support of the University's efforts to commercialize knowledge in ways that benefit the greater community.
David Allen, Tech Launch Arizona executive director (Photo by Patrick McArdle/UANews)
"The University of Arizona is unquestionably a world class research institution. What I want to see, and what I know Dr. Hart wants to see and what everyone on board with Tech Launch Arizona wants to see is tech transfer operations that match the stellar quality of innovation that's going on at the University," he said.
"I want to see cutting-edge discoveries at the University turn into leading-edge companies that create jobs here in Tucson."
Hart, in her remarks, emphasized the importance of "disruptive innovation" – or challenging the University's comfortable way of doing things – to the UA's future.
"We truly are committed to the disruptive innovation that will shake us up a little bit – preserving our core values but recognizing that just because we did things in any given way in any given decade does not mean that it's the only way we can do things," she said.
Hart pointed to changes in University financial support as one impetus for trying new approaches, noting that the UA has lost 40 percent of its state funding over the past four years.
"The funding models of the universities of the past are not going to last us into the 21st century," she said.
With that in mind, she said, "it becomes more and more important to us to make our boundaries more permeable to partners for mutual benefit, and Tech Launch Arizona is a perfect example of the entrepreneurship and commitment to those permeable boundaries that I think will play a critical role for the University of Arizona going forward."