Arizona Shines in Life Science Innovation

AZBio is the unified voice of the bioscience industry in Arizona, working to make Arizona a place where bioscience organizations can grow and succeed. As Arizona’s statewide industry Association, AZBio is committed to working with its members across Arizona to support the industry and provide access to key resources, connections and information in the biosciences community. AZBio works very closely with AdvaMed, BIO, PhRMA and other national and international organizations on issues and opportunities to bring Arizona and members of the bioscience community to the national and international stage.

Arizona shines in the area of life-science innovation and is a natural fit for life-science manufacturing, distribution, and health IT companies looking to expand U.S. operations, with leaders in diagnostics, medical devices, new therapies, and telemedicine all calling Arizona home. Some of the innovative medical technology originating in Arizona includes the SynCardia Total Artificial Heart®, the Regenesis Provant System for pain management and wound healing, and the Medtronic leadless pacemaker. The artificial pancreas also has its origins in Arizona as does the Gore Medical Products Division that has provided creative therapeutic solutions to complex medical problems for more than 35 years. Ventana Medical Systems, a member of the Roche Group, was founded in Arizona and has grown to become a global leader and innovator of tissue-based diagnostic solutions for patients worldwide.

Between 2002 and 2011, bioscience jobs in Arizona increased 45 percent, nearly four times the national growth rate, adding more than 30,700 positions (including hospitals), to reach a total of 99,018 jobs. During the Great Recession, the number of bioscience establishments in Arizona increased by 31 percent, from 682 to 892, exceeding the national growth rate of 23 percent. Average bioscience wages increased 44 percent - not adjusted for inflation - to $56,328, which is 28 percent higher than the average private-sector salary.

Arizona has a bright future in medtech. The Arizona Alzheimer’s consortium is hard at work on finding answers to help diagnose and treat patients that are affected while helping their families cope. The expansion of both the Arizona Cancer Center and the Mayo Medical School will be completed soon. And the Phoenix Biomedical Corridor and the Scottsdale Cure Corridor both continue to grow. The Southern Arizona region is developing into a diagnostics powerhouse thanks to companies like Ventana, HTG Molecular Diagnostics, and Accelerate Diagnostics.

Access to capital for both startups and emerging growth companies is the single largest obstacle firms have to overcome. Arizona has traditionally been a fly-over state for life science investors, but with the help of AZBio, the industry is working to change that by hosting the first annual White Hat Life Science Investors Conference in Phoenix this September - - and bringing together the best life science investment opportunities from across the Southwest region. On the policy front, AZBio is working with its elected leaders to explore adding a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) matching grant program to its economic development tool box to complement its existing job creation, job training, R&D, and angel investment tax credits.

A team effort is required to support and grow Arizona’s entire bioscience industry, including all of the individuals, institutions and companies that comprise it, into a greater position of national and international leadership and prominence. Collaboration is a hallmark of our life science community. Some say that we have a “collaborative gene,” says AZBio CEO Joan Koerber-Walker. “Unlike large, more established life-science regions, Arizona lacks the structured silos that can inhibit innovation. People will reach out and work with you here to achieve a shared mission.”