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New Strategy Outlines Future for Arizona Bioscience

December 06, 2002

A new biotech report funded by a private foundation finds Arizona possesses many of the essential elements needed to become a national leader in the biosciences. Now, all the state needs is at least 10 years and a $1.4 billion public-private investment, according to the report Platform for Progress: Arizona's Bioscience Roadmap.

The Flinn Foundation is counting on the encouraging findings of its report, the detailed roadmap therein, and the momentum of the planning process to help energize the entire state to make the necessary effort. The planning process was overseen by a 25-member committee of state, business, university and economic development leaders.

Platform for Progress argues the biosciences not only would build upon Arizona's strengths in electronics, optics and advanced engineering, but also would bring stability to the state's economy by balancing more cyclical industries. To mazimize the impact of its investments, the study contends, Arizona should focus its near-term efforts on three existing and emerging research fields — neurological sciences, cancer therapeutics and bioengineering. Research to prepare the study determined Arizona already has a critical mass of researchers and facilities in these areas.

Success requires that Arizona mobilize public and private leadership; increase the general public's understanding of the biosciences and its impact on the state's quality of life; invest in bioscience facilities, labs and faculty at the state's universities; attract a greater share of federal bioscience research funding; and develop and retain scientific and technical talent in the state.

Four strategies and 19 supporting actions to develop Arizona's bioscience research base are prescribed in the roadmap. Eight performance measures also are offered to monitor Arizona's progress. Although Arizona's commitment to the biosciences must be long-term, outcomes such as increased federal research funding and numbers of bioscience firms should be measurable within the next three to five years, the study concludes.

Platform for Progress is available at http://www.flinn.org.