UArizona Startups Create $585M Economic Impact


Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the University of Arizona that commercializes inventions stemming from university research, released the results of a study that attributes a three-year economic impact of more than $585 million to university startups.

The study, conducted by the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship in the Eller College of Management, analyzed the impact of university startups launched from fiscal year 2016 through 2018.

The report's top findings indicate that 71 startups launched through fiscal year 2018:

  • Generated a $585.7 million positive economic impact for Arizona
  • Created 5,236 Arizona jobs
  • Produced $25.4 million in state and local taxes
  • Generated $14.24 in employment income for every $1 spent
  • Were responsible for $251.5 million in labor income

Among those startups working to bring inventions to market are: FreeFall Aerospace, which is commercializing intelligent antenna systems developed at the Steward Observatory and Department of Astronomy; Regulonix, which is bringing to market non-opioid medications for chronic pain developed at the College of Medicine – Tucson and the BIO5 Institute; Lunewave, which is advancing automotive radar sensing developed in the College of Engineering; and Clean Earth Tech, which is furthering research from the College of Engineering and BIO5 Institute to develop a solution to control harmful airborne dust .

“TLA was created to maximize the impact of University of Arizona-invented technologies for our community, our state and the world,” said Tech Launch Arizona's Assistant Vice President Doug Hockstad. “We’re highly metrics driven and have been focused on growing our numbers since the office was formed in late 2012. This new study objectively demonstrates our impact. We’re very excited about these results and look forward to continuing to grow in all these areas.”

By the university’s definition, a startup is a company founded to commercialize a technology invented by employees – faculty, staff or graduate students – that has licensed the intellectual property for the invention from the university.

The university has created 164 startups since 1984, and more than 90 of those have occurred since launch of Tech Launch Arizona in 2012. Of those, 82 are still in business, and 73 are operating in Arizona. These numbers continue to grow as the office continues to seek out opportunities to commercialize research.

“We work hard to surround our startups with support to help them be successful from the beginning,” Hockstad said. “From our I-Corps customer discovery program, to our four amazing mentors-in-residence, to providing Asset Development funding, we’ve worked hard to bring all the pieces together to give startups a healthy footing as they move out from the university and into the community. In the end, we want these businesses to create new jobs, attract new resources to our region and make the world a better place.”

Greg Watson, a lecturer in the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, oversaw the study and wrote the report. The results of the economic impact report are included in Tech Launch Arizona’s FY2019 Annual Report.