UArizona opens bioscience incubator in Oro Valley

Above: The ribbon cutting ceremony for the University of Arizona's Center for Innovation at Oro Valley took place Thursday morning, December 3rd, 2020. Photo by Chris Richards/UAAA Business News | 4 Dec, 2020 |

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation at Oro Valley – an incubator focused on supporting bioscience startups – has officially opened its doors.

The center features office, lab and meeting space. The incubator will also offer companies access to shared laboratory equipment like an ultra-low minus-80-degrees freezer, biosafety cabinets and an inverted fluorescence microscope. Startups will also be able to access a 27-point roadmap for business development, designed to support bioscience discoveries and help translate them into marketable technologies.

“The University of Arizona Center for Innovation at Oro Valley is a vital component in the growing innovation ecosystem being developed by the University of Arizona,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, UArizona senior vice president for research and innovation, who was recently recognized by the Governor’s Celebration of Innovation for her work to grow innovation impact at the university.

“Establishing a bioscience-focused incubator fills a critical gap and is pivotal in extending the reach of our world-class research and innovation far beyond our campus to benefit society at large,” Cantwell said.

The Oro Valley incubator is part of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation – Tech Parks Arizona’s startup incubator network, which has outposts throughout the Southern Arizona region and is on a mission to grow scalable science and technology startup ventures that fuel the Arizona economy.

The new incubator’s first tenant is TheraCea Pharma, an Arizona-based biotechnology startup that develops diagnostic positron emission tomography imaging agents, or PET scans, to detect cancer as well as cardiological, neurological and infectious diseases. The company earned a year of membership at the incubator by winning this year’s UACI Sponsored Launch Fueled by BIOSA ­– the Bioindustry Organization of Southern Arizona – competition.

“UACI is providing fabulous support to startup companies by connecting them to the resources of the University of Arizona and the Tucson community,” said Iman Daryaei, CEO of TheraCea Pharma and a senior research specialist in the UArizona Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “The new facility in Oro Valley is located in an area where some of the most valuable bioindustry leaders in the state of Arizona are located, which provides the companies the opportunity to connect to those businesses for a successful launch and expansion.”

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation is currently accepting applications for new startups to join the center.

Carol Stewart, associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona and president of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, quickly learned, when she came to the university two years ago, about the business community’s desire to have an incubator that could take Oro Valley’s emerging biosciences industry to the next level.

“The community worked for several years to launch this project,” Stewart said. “Knowing the need and knowing our business incubation expertise resulted in our team working diligently to bring this community resource over the finish line. I am proud to say that, today, bioscience entrepreneurs have the critical infrastructure and support needed to thrive.”

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation has directly served over 150 companies and thousands of entrepreneurs over the course of nearly two decades. The network also includes the University of Arizona Center for Innovation at the UA Tech Park at Rita Road and the UA Tech Park at The Bridges.

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