I’m not one to brag, but my 12-year-old daughter has used a rotary phone. OK, maybe that’s not really something to brag about, but what I find interesting is the icon for a phone is no longer a rotary phone but the image of a smartphone. Thanks to all of the innovation taking place in Tucson, the rest of the country and the world, maybe the icon to save something on your computer will actually change to something other than an image of a 3.5-inch floppy disk.
A recent report issued by the international brokerage firm CBRE indicates that tech jobs in Tucson have increased by 90 percent over the last five years. This does not happen by accident, and the chamber’s publication, Chamber Edge, out today, highlights the organizations, people and activities that helped our region achieve that impressive statistic. The following are a few excerpts from the features that appear in Chamber Edge that showcase how we have achieved and will continue to achieve success in innovation.
UA Center for Innovation
Over the last few years, the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, Arizona’s longest-running incubator, has seen an increase of quality in startups and emerging companies. This is in part from the success of Tech Launch Arizona, the University of Arizona’s office dedicated to commercialization, which has greatly enhanced the transfer of technologies out of the university into the commercial space. Approximately 50 percent of the UA Center for Innovation clients are based on UA technology in addition to the local startups going through the program.
The Arizona Forge is creating onramps and intersections by bringing together a business innovation lab, student projects and internships, an incubator for startups, and an open door for the community. Industry partners sponsor projects, and a dedicated team of students work with them in the lab. Just a few feet away, founders build their startups under the guidance of mentors and coaches, with numerous spaces open for spontaneous conversation and classroom education. Downstairs, entrepreneurs enter the downtown facility to meet the Startup Tucson team and get connected to resources and educational programmingto start to grow their companies. Forge at Roy Place opens in December.
Slated to open fall 2019, SAACA will open the doors to CATALYST, a first-of-its-kind, 14,000-square-foot maker and arts space at Tucson Mall. The space will have dedicated learning spaces for culinary arts classes and instruction, music and film production studios, an arts and crafts studio, robotics and engineering lab, performance spaces and coworking for creatives.
Additionally, StartUp Tucson and the Chamber have formed a partnership to create relationships between businesses just getting off the ground with those who have achieved great success. StartUp Tucson’s event, TENWEST, which is in its fifth year, is ten days in the middle of October and focuses on innovation, technology, inspiring new ways of thinking and facilitating connections amongst entrepreneurs. Not to mention Founders Institute, UA Venture Capital, Desert Angels—the list goes on.
The tourism/business connection
But that’s not all! The fall Chamber Edge also doubles as a relocation guide. With features that showcase the success of accompanying partners who have relocated to Tucson from another part of the country to testimonials from companies who choose to do business in Tucson, the second half of the magazine helps to influence professionals looking at our region as a place to live, work or play. The chamber will continue to provide information about our region on a regular basis through our publications. The collection of features in the Chamber Edge will act as a base whenever we get questions from executives, site selectors and professionals looking to make the move and we’ll continue to highlight positive news about Tucson and our surrounding communities through our Talent Taskforce efforts.
So, check out the Chamber Edge at TucsonChamber.org. And who knows, with the speed of innovation these days, all it will take is just thinking about our website and it will appear in front of you. But for now, just save the document using the now very antiquated 3.5inch floppy disk at the corner of your screen.
Michael Guymon is the vice president of the Tucson Metro Chamber.