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To succeed in the global economy, Arizona must better educate its workforce, attract more investment, foster the high-tech industrial sector and health care fields, and further new knowledge in critical areas to differentiate Arizona amongst the ranks of its national peers and international competitors.

Improving the state’s ability to provide a skilled workforce in emerging technologies and a framework for innovation is essential in the global competition of the new knowledge-based economy.

The bioscience industry sector is among the most highly competitive, fastest-growing and technologically innovative sectors of the United States economy. Community leaders in Arizona have targeted the sector for regional economic development by endorsing the Arizona Bioscience Roadmap, which proposes an investment plan to expand this industry. Biotechnology, expected to be a major driver of the 21st-century economy, is one of the most research-intensive industries in the world, with an estimated 70 percent of innovation now stemming from discoveries originally developed at research universities and non-profit institutes. 

The modern university must transform itself if it is to remain relevant, fulfill its responsibilities in research and teaching, and assume an expanded role in enriching the economic, social and cultural health of the community.

Only a few institutions have embraced the mandate for this fundamental transformation and recognized the scale of organizational change and funding needed to support vanguard research on problems that will be solved only by large-scale interdisciplinary efforts. ASU is among a small cadre of institutions embarking on these reforms.

This determination is exemplified by ASU President Michael Crow’s vision of a New American University: a new model for the American research university that serves to create an institution committed to excellence, access and impact. ASU measures itself not by those it excludes, but by those it includes and how they succeed. ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good; and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

ASU was the first university in the U.S. to create an interdisciplinary research institute entirely devoted to the principles of bio-inspired innovation that fuses previously separate areas of knowledge to serve as a model for 21st-century academic research. These principles include an entrepreneurial research culture that is attractive to scientists capable of working across disciplines and in close cooperation with industry to translate discoveries into commercially viable products and clinical practices. The Biodesign Institute is ASU's flagship endeavor to help facilitate Arizona’s successful competition in the biosciences. Competition with well-funded rival states and well-established institutional giants requires a highly innovative approach that does not follow the well-blazed trail.

Arizona’s historic bioscience strengths are in the agricultural chemicals and medical devices segments, but it is gaining significant momentum in personalized medicine, cancer research, neuroscience and bioengineering. The biosciences industry sector in the greater Phoenix area shows emerging strength in the fields of proteomics, nanotechnology and bioinformatics, in addition to aerospace and business services that continue to be important. Arizona and the Biodesign Institute must look for ways to leverage synergies among these industries.

ASU’s efforts feed into and harmonize with a statewide initiative, Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, to build a robust bioscience economy in Arizona. This focused statewide effort began in 2002 with the promulgation of a Bioscience Roadmap that outlined the following returns to the community:

  • greater availability of new medical treatments for Arizona residents
  • opportunity to build a higher-wage, skilled, and technology-driven employment base, with the added benefit of an industry that provides jobs at various skill levels 
  • greater diversity for Arizona’s economy with a stable sector that balances more cyclical industries.

Biodesign’s contribution to this enterprise is evidenced in three key areas: capturing significant external funding for the generation of research output; attracting premier scientific talent and high-wage jobs to Arizona; and spurring innovation that produces economic growth.

Biodesign’s contributions to the state’s workforce development include annual employment and training of more than 50 postdoctoral researchers and 300 undergraduate and graduate students, who will matriculate and enter the workforce. Biodesign has also provided hands-on research experiences for undergraduates, high school students and high school teachers to advance Arizona’s STEM education.

Biodesign Institute’s substantial success is a cornerstone in Arizona State University’s strategy to propel ASU into the top tier of the world’s research universities. The State of Arizona and ASU’s administration have received a significant return on their investments in Biodesign, generous backing that served as the key catalyst in advancing Biodesign’s goal of becoming a world-class, entrepreneurial research enterprise to improve human health and the health and security of our planet.

We are eager to attract the best minds and students to Biodesign, partner with like-minded individuals, non-profits, federal, state and corporate sponsors to catalyze our scientific discoveries, foster spinouts, and validate our discoveries through clinical partnerships.

Individual, corporate and state support remain critical in establishing ASU as a world-class research university, facilitating our success in securing competitive external funding, disseminating ideas through impactful publications, training the skilled workforce that is pivotal for the growth of Arizona’s economy, and translating discoveries into intellectual property disclosures, patents, and marketable products.

With your support and involvement, you can help the Biodesign Institute establish a globally competitive biosciences industry cluster in Arizona.