Looking Back…Moving Forward

Part 2


  • Arizona Legislature authorizes $1 billion for university research infrastructure. Supported by Gov. Doug Ducey and approved by the Arizona Legislature, this investment enables the construction or
    expansion of bioscience research facilities to produce stronger research performance and economic impact.
  • Mayo Clinic School of Medicine welcomes inaugural class to new Scottsdale campus
  • Calimmune is acquired by CSL Behring for $91 Million up front with the potential for an additional $341 Million over time.
  • SinfoníaRx exits for up to  $131 million.  CEO is tapped to lead UA Venture Capital.
  • NeoLight, EndoVantage, Ventana Medical Systems; and Accelerate
    Diagnostics gain FDA approvals.
  • Marvin J. Slepian, MD of  The University of Arizona honored with AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement; Bard Peripheral Vascular (now part of BD) earns Bioscience Company of the Year honors and Laurence Hurley, PhD of the University of Arizona is named Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year.


  • Biodesign Building C opens.  The 191,000-plus-square-foot building gives scientists even more space to realize those visions, with high-quality wet lab space for chemistry, engineering and the biological sciences arranged in a “neighborhood”-style open layout that encourages collaboration.  Biodesign C’s basement is build to be the home to the the world’s first compact X-ray free-electron laser (CXFEL) — a key drug discovery and bioenergy research tool.
  • University of Arizona awarded $60M for ‘All of Us’ national study: UA and Banner Health receive $60 million from the National Institutes of Health over five years to collect information on the health of 100,000 people, especially Native Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, and senior residents—part of NIH’s goal to enroll 1 million people nationwide.
  • The Arizona Legislature and Governor Ducey extend Prop. 301 education funding, including the Technology & Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) through 2041.  
  • AZBio is awarded a $299,750 three year grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce) to create a new seed fund to drive Arizona Bioscience Innovation forward.
  • AZBio hosts Arizona Bioscience Week (AZBW 2018) including the third White Hat Life Science Investor Conference. Announces that White Hat Companies from 2014 & 2016 have gone on to attract over $250 Million in investment.
  • Dr. Daniel D. Von Hoff honored with Arizona Bioscience Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement, Dr. Michael Berens is honored as Bioscience Leader of the Year, Calimmune (now part of  CSL Limited) is Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year, Clara N Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD of The University of Arizona is the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year.

Stephen Albert Johnson and his team move forward in clinical trials.


  • OncoMyx Therapeutics raises a  $25 Million series A financing led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund (BIVF), Delos Capital, and Xeraya Capital with participation from Korea Investment Partners (KIP), City Hill Ventures, and Madison Partners. ASU reported that the $25 million invested in OncoMyx is the largest amount of series A funding raised for any ASU spinout.
  • Golden Seeds, one of the nation’s largest and most active investment groups, focuses squarely on funding high-potential, women-led businesses launches an Arizona chapter.
  •  Scientist Stephen Albert Johnston and his team at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute have pooled their energies to develop a universal vaccine to prevent cancer. The clinical trial involving 800 dogs is that largest canine clinical trial ever.
  • For the fifth year in a row, Arizona State University has been named the most innovative school in America.
  • The City of Phoenix announces that $3 Billion in  bioscience capital projects are underway with an expectation of  creating 7,000 jobs.
  • Full Repeal of the Medical Device Tax was signed into law along with other key funding measures and laws that impact our industry. Nine members of Arizona’s eleven member Congressional Delegation worked with our community to make repeal a reality. 
  • Governor Jane Dee Hull  was honored with the AZBio Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement as thanks for her actions in starting all of this progress 20 years ago. Regenesis Biomedical, Inc. is the Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year, Martha Brumfield, PhD of Critical Path Institute is recognized as Arizona Bioscience Leader of the Year and Monica Kraft, MD, of the The  University of Arizona is named Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year.

Moving Forward

Now, as we approach the end of this century’s second decade, Arizona and its bioscience sector are embracing a new set of opportunities as we prepare to step up from being an emerging bioscience leader and pursue our vision of Arizona as a top tier bioscience state.  AZBio’s mission is to work with our members help make that happen.  We’re working on it and the possibilities are even more exciting than when we started.

Benjamin Renquist, PhD, in his lab at the UA Agricultural Center. Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Benjamin Renquist, PhD, in his lab at the UA Agricultural Center. Photo: Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona

Arizona innovators are providing medical professionals, locally and globally, with the tools and treatments patients need.  Global leaders including BD, Celgene (BMS), Cord Blood Registry, Dexcom, Medtronic, MERZ, Roche, and W.L. Gore are delivering health innovations from their Arizona facilities.  Emerging life science leaders are bringing their life saving and life changing products to market while others are enabling better healthcare delivery with telemedicine and health IT. 

Today, Arizona innovators are developing new products to screen for and diagnose disease at every stage of disease progression including the initial stages when early intervention can lead to the best patient outcomes.  Arizona medical device companies are developing solutions that help patients with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurological challenges ranging from pain management to movement to memory.  Arizonans are hard at work developing a new cancer vaccine, drugs to treat life threatening diseases, and more.  Others are developing new tools to help innovators and clinicians get the information they need faster.

The Student Discovery Zone celebrated welcoming its 900th student in 2019. We are looking forward to celebrating #1,000 in 2020.

Another perspective on development is its role in creating the place where all this can happen.   Arizona is creating, attracting, and growing innovative life science companies and they need places to do what they do.  The Phoenix Biomedical Campus, which started when the city built the building that houses TGen, has grown to over 1.5 million square feet and includes all three state universities, TGen, the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix  and The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.  Ultimately the 30-acre urban medical and bioscience campus is planned for more than 6 million square feet of biomedical-related research, academic, and clinical facilities. In the City of Tempe, the I.D.E.A. Campus is a phased development that focuses on bringing new biotechnology and technology companies to Tempe. The 18-acre, 1 million square foot project includes five commercial buildings. BD, one of the world’s largest medical device companies, will open its new facility on the campus in February 2020.  In Southern Arizona, a new incubator in Oro Valley create a home for future innovations just around the corner from Roche Tissue Diagnostics and Icagen, two of Southern Arizona’s great success stories.

We have tremendous opportunities ahead of us, but we have work to do too. 

Access to Capital is still a challenge for Arizona Innovators. Here are the actions underway to shift this challenge to an opportunity:

  • The White Hat Life Science Investor Conference returns in 2020. Hosted by AZBio and chaired by AZBio Board Members Mara Aspinall of Blue Stone Ventures and Jason Jardine of Knobbe Martens, White Hat will bring together the top 32 life science companies from across the Rocky Mountain Southwest Region with investors from with Arizona and across the U.S.  Applications for White Hat will open in January
  • The capital campaign launches for AZBio’s initiative to create  sustainable seed funding for Arizona life science innovations,  AZAdvances, at the AZBio 2020 Kickoff Reception on January 23rd.

Education Funding and TRIF with be a top topic in 2020.

  • When the Arizona Legislature and Governor Ducey extended Prop. 301 education funding, including the Technology & Research Initiative Fund (TRIF) through 2041 the new provisions no longer were voter protected as they were under Prop. 301.  
  • A new proposition will be prepared for the 2020 ballot to address funding across all levels of education.  This is our opportunity to share the stories of how TRIF is making life better for all Arizonans.  The Storytelling has begun.  Visit FACESofTRIF.org to watch the story unfold and contact AZBio to share YOUR stories.

Engagement with our elected leaders will be essential in 2020 and beyond.

  • At the state level this means ensuring that Arizona continues its leadership in driving health innovations forward with the funding for growth and policies that make these innovations available to patients when they need them.
  • In Washington, D.C., we need to continue to work with our Congressional Delegation to develop new ways to support & protect health innovation while addressing the rising costs of healthcare across our nation.  AZBio will be heading to DC in February and March.  Come on along!

Continuing to Build our Community

All of our progress and all of our opportunities are built on our foundation of community.  AZBio Members are  making life better by working together and we look forward to working with YOU in this exciting new decade to come. 


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