University of Arizona



The university’s research strengths support opportunities for economic development through leading-edge research initiatives, new inventions, technology commercialization and innovative public-private partnerships. UA has reworked the process for recognizing interdisciplinary research and commercialization activities in the promotion and tenure process.

Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) is focused on creating a positive commercialization impact on the Tucson/Southern Arizona economies, and UA Tech Parks is attracting and retaining high-tech business. UA also established a new unit, Strategic Business Initiatives, to focus on developing and realizing new research and development (R&D) partnerships with industry to accelerate economic development. Already, UA counts more than 270 industry partners with over $120 million in collaborative R&D awards.

Tech Launch Arizona‘s Commercialization Network
In FY 2016, TLA continued to grow its network of domain experts, which connects UA investigators and their inventions with interested, informed, committed individuals who are drawn on to advance technology opportunities. The network underpins commercialization capabilities by extending the expertise base from a limited staff to a virtually limitless community. This reach is necessary to be prepared to assess the vast range of UA research. The network has over 1,400 qualified domain experts and relevant business and community members. Connections are based on common interests, shared expectations and understanding of goals. Network members help assess, understand and position technologies based on commercial and social relevance. As a largely alumni-represented network, the reach is global — but with deep regional roots. To better engage and strengthen the Commercialization Network, TLA launched the Commercialization Partner program in FY15 with 12 members, which has grown to more than 20 members. These Commercialization Partners are engaged executives, entrepreneurs and investors who provide ongoing, and often in-person, support for commercialization activities from invention disclosure through to startup launch. TLA also launched its Mentors-in-Residence program, hiring three highly qualified and experienced Commercialization Partners to provide ongoing advice to UA inventor/entrepreneurs on commercialization strategies and to help build teams.

SBIR/STTR Competitiveness Initiative
In 2014, TLA launched the SBIR/STTR initiative to increase the activity and effectiveness of new and small businesses applying for SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) funding. In 2015, TLA gave the community engagement aspect of this program to the Arizona Center for Innovation (AzCI) while continuing to develop strategies to support faculty engaged in startup formation.

SBIR/STTR provides a useful tool in developing funding strategies to help move UA startups forward. With the resulting stronger partnership with AzCI, TLA has developed a clear pathway for such startups to transition out of the university and into the community.

Business Intelligence
TLA re-launched its Business Intelligence (BI) efforts, an in-house partnership with the UA Libraries, providing on-demand critical market and commercialization research. This effort involved the hiring of a BI manager and the consolidation of student research employees under the BI umbrella. TLA’s BI efforts now entail all initial assessments of inventions disclosed to TLA, including licensee identification and patent landscapes, as well as deeper, more comprehensive, research on select projects, including market strategy and more.