The Association of University Research Parks recently settled into its new headquarters: University of Arizona’s Tech Park. The AURP is a network of technical and research parks linked to universities around the world. Its mission is to foster innovation and economic growth by connecting universities, businesses and government and the company is continuing that mission in Tucson.
Tech parks are a collection of buildings dedicated to research and business. The environment of the park encourages young businesses to grow, new technology to be developed and research to dive deeper through shared resources and mission. UA’s research park division, Tech Parks Arizona, is its own a community of innovators, with 40 businesses and organizations and 6,000 employees.
Helping facilitate AURP’s move to UA was the recently appointed Associate Vice President for Tech Parks Arizona, Carol Stewart. Before joining UA, Stewart worked as CEO of AURP, which is based in Tucson, though she worked from Ontario, Canada.
“With my experience, I have seen first-hand the direct benefits derived from innovative partnerships with research parks,” Stewart said in a press release. “This partnership will produce unique benefits that are yet to be realized and have a ripple effect world-wide.”
The AURP moving to the UA Tech Park is representative of the association’s “mission of fostering innovation, commercialization and economic growth in a global economy.” The move is part of a larger strategic plan for AURP to operate more in conjunction to its outposts.
The AURP is essentially joining the UA Tech Park community as a new neighbor. This means the current residents can network, learn from each other, work as sounding boards for each other, and find new perspectives.
The UA Tech Park has helped business startups launch and “graduate” from their corporate offices. Services at its Innovation Center help new entrepreneurs create a business plan, develop and market products, find investors, and all with the help of a mentor.
Metropia was one of those businesses—a platform that eases commutes to work or travel plans through algorithms and urban analytics. Another is RallyUp, software to help gain donors for charity organizations. Another software company, Dataware Ventures, LLC was also on the list of graduates.
Richard Snodgrass, Ph.D, co-founder of Dataware Ventures said: “As a result of the guidance, mentoring, and training the UA Center for Innovation provided, Dataware Ventures is much further along than where it was when it first joined.”
Through joining the UA Tech Park, the AURP benefits from support services and becomes part of a larger community. In return, businesses and organizations in the UA Tech Park gain promotional opportunities and increased brand awareness through the AURP’s network of 200 other research parks in North America.
The UA Tech Parks is also celebrating its 25-year anniversary. With a quarter century down, the goal is to continue improving the UA Tech Park through addition of a development called The Village at the UA Tech Park. The Village is a project that will develop more of a “quality of life dimension,” to the UA Tech Park, which will include shopping, neighborhood housing, a new wellness center and a hotel.
There are also plans to build out the new UA Tech Park at The Bridges. Plans for The Bridges include new office and laboratory space, a community park and recreational space, and residential and commercial space. The Bridges will house the technology companies that began as startups in the Innovation Center.
The UA Tech Park will celebrate its anniversary starting Aug. 12 with a Small Business Administration Road Tour to support startups seeking funding, then Oct. 18 is a brunch tour called “Driving Innovation Forward,” followed by Homecoming at the UA Tech Park on Oct. 30. This year, Citi will be celebrating 15 years at the Tech Park, and IBM has spent 40 years with the Tech Park.
With the move of the AURP to the UA Tech Park comes many benefits to the local economy. The AURP hosts international conferences, providing the UA Tech Park with the opportunity to serve as host to 25-50 of the top executives of research parks. This welcomes the impact of visitors, as well as the benefit of supporting new Tucson businesses to grow and strengthen.
Meredith O’Neil is a University of Arizona journalism graduate student and Tucson Local Media intern.