Annual Report Card Reveals Continued Need to Strengthen Arizona’s Technology Sector
PHOENIX (July 12, 2013) – Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz), a nonprofit public-private partnership that makes strategic investments to generate tangible economic returns helping keep Arizona competitive and prosperous, today announced the findings from the 2013 Annual Report Card on Arizona’s Technology Sector and the results of the significant statewide contributions SFAz has made.
Completed by the nonprofit research group, Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, the Annual Report Card shows the SFAz model is continuing to fuel innovation, discovery and talent. The report highlights the cumulative value SFAz’s strategically-targeted investments in grant programs are producing for areas key to the state’s growth such as research and development partnerships, technology commercialization and STEM education. During this past six years, SFAz has been generating a steady and increasing return on investment for Arizona and its overall economic health.
Economic & Innovation Impacts
One of the significant highlights is the continued increase in industry matching and other non-state research funding leveraged by the SFAz grants. For each dollar invested in research grants (funded primarily with state money), an additional $4.83 was raised in support of the SFAz grant activities. The report indicated these additional funds raised have had a significant economic ripple effect through the broader economy with impacts of this additional leverage now reaching nearly $600 million over the past six years. Furthermore, the impact of the 105 research grants SFAz has awarded since 2007 continues to rise year-over-year:
- 1,865 jobs directly related to cumulative grant activities (up 89 from FY 2012)
- 207 patents filed and/or issued (up 28 from FY 2012)
- 24 technology companies formed in Arizona (up two from FY 2012)
- 23 technology licenses in place (up seven from FY 2012)
The grant analysis also found SFAz had a higher rate of performance with respect to two key commercialization outcomes compared to typical state university activities. Among SFAz grants, one patent was applied for or issued for every $1.6 million in total university research funding generated during the past six years which is ahead of the six-year Arizona university-wide average of one patent applied for or issued per $4.2 million in funding.
The report also showed among SFAz grants, one new company start-up was initiated for every $14.2 million in total university research funding from SFAz during the past six years, also ahead of the six-year Arizona university-wide average of one start-up per $86.7 million.
Additionally, SFAz is leading Arizona’s STEM education initiatives to further grow the next generation of highly-skilled workers from the K-12 and community college levels as well as supporting top research talent in state university doctorate programs.
Since 2007, SFAz’s STEM education initiatives have impacted nearly 385,000 students and 10,656 teachers at the K-12 and community college levels across 61 grant awards. The nonprofit also has supported a total of 263 graduate research fellowships for Ph.D. students in STEM fields at Arizona universities. Many of these bright minds and highly-trained scientists and engineers have been retained in Arizona with 38 percent of the graduates working in post-doctoral positions working in-state and 50 percent of the graduates with permanent jobs remaining in-state.
“We are pleased that the Science Foundation Arizona process, oversight and transparency continue to provide a strong return on investment for Arizona’s economic future,” said William Harris, CEO and president of SFAz. “We’re committed to making a difference and to help enable innovation.”
Although SFAz’s strategic methods are making a substantial impact on the state, findings from the annual technology and innovation report card suggest a number of key challenges in areas critical to building a top-tier technology ecosystem. In most cases, the state is failing to keep pace with national indicators. Key concerns include:
- Nonexistent venture capital in Arizona in the critical seed and early stages for technology companies, while the nation saw continued gains
- A concentration of technology industry employment and growth that remains below the U.S. average
- Concentration of R&D expenditures that lag the nation across both university and industry
- Achievement deficits in middle school math and science performance and lower incident of postsecondary degrees in key science and engineering fields
These metrics indicate the critical importance of SFAz to keep Arizona competitive with the rest of the nation, as well as the need for sustained funding to continue this level of results and the fostering of key partnerships.
“SFAz’s investments and oversight are continuing to pay-off for Arizona,” said Ryan Helwig, senior economist at Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice. “This report shows the powerful impact SFAz is having, but also is a reminder of the importance of continuing to accelerate Arizona’s technology sector in order to be competitive with the rest of the nation.”
Battelle is the world’s largest non-profit independent research and development organization, providing innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing needs through its four global businesses: Laboratory Management, National Security, Energy Technology, and Health and Life Sciences. The Technology Partnership Practice focuses Battelle’s broad experience to develop strategic solutions for economic development organizations, universities, industry associations, and non-profit technology organizations across the United States. For more information, visit http://www.battelle.org.
About Science Foundation Arizona
Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization initiated in 2006 by the Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Flagstaff Forty in conjunction with the executive and legislative branches of state government. SFAz serves as a catalyst for high-wage, knowledge-based jobs and economic diversity through administration and strict oversight of research, development and education grants to public education and other non-profit research performing institutions. For more information, visit www.sfaz.org.
Download 2013 Battelle Report