As part of the tireless work of Governor Doug Ducey to attract innovative companies from around the country to grow and expand in our great state, the Governor’s Office, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Arizona Commerce Authority hosted the inaugural Arizona Tech Innovation Summit in Scottsdale last month. Tech leaders and company investors from Silicon Valley attended to share their views and learn about the Arizona story.
A fireside chat between Gov. Ducey and Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow showcased Arizona as a state that’s open for business and that is producing graduates ready to fill the talent pipeline for tomorrow’s jobs. This is important. We heard from several panelists about how hard it has become to hire software engineers and other knowledge workers.
Dr. Crow has ASU positioned to meet the challenge. He informed the audience that ASU is now educating over 20,000 engineering students each year. Five years ago, it was 8,000.
Attracting highly coveted researchers to cutting-edge research facilities must be a piece of Arizona’s economic expansion story. More than ever, innovation is the key to economic prosperity. Where innovation and discovery happens matters. This is why Arizona needs to do all it can to be their host.
Arizona’s previous investments in research infrastructure generated short-term benefits from construction jobs, but also the longer lasting incomes, research dollars and inventions of sought-after scientists who were attracted to the light of leading- edge facilities.
ASU alone has spun out more than 100 companies that have brought in hundreds of millions in outside investment. The University of Arizona has developed some of the most sophisticated spacecraft, which are precursors to commercialized products here on Earth. And a partnership between Northern Arizona University and UA is helping to meet the massive demand for healthcare workers. All of this was born out of the vision of a prior generation of policymakers who made it possible for these dollars, students, scientists, and investments to make their way to Arizona.
But it’s time to update, upgrade and unleash our innovation footprint.
A recent study looked at the historical impact of high-end research facilities and found that large-scale scientific research that leads to commercialized innovation cannot be tackled without the highly advanced and recent technology that can handle researchers’ most complex questions. This means the biggest discoveries occur in the most modern of research facilities.
The research infrastructure proposal in the governor’s budget is an important domino in this discovery eco-system. Consider, just one of the buildings in the queue if this investment moves forward will attract multidisciplinary teams trying to solve different, but related, scientific challenges. These “research clusters” attract the best, the brightest and the largest investments. This $130M investment is expected to pay for itself in less than three years.
If you’re over the age of 30, the world is dramatically different than the one you grew up in – and changing faster every day. The only rule that seems to apply to this new world is this: Expect things to change.
Some of the world’s most successful companies already know what we have to offer and they want more of it. Intel, Raytheon and a host of others are making billion dollar investments in Arizona. They believe in our ability to keep pace with the rate of change. We need to stay in the game.