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Terrific confluence

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Posted: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 8:12 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

The biggest news in Oro Valley, and arguably all of Northwest Tucson, may come from a hidden laboratory space off Oracle Road, just across the street from Steam Pump Ranch.

BIO5 Oro Valley, the University of Arizona’s foray into the community, represents a confluence of brains, money, ideas and a great price on the laboratory space formerly occupied by Sanofi-aventis.

In that building, right now, scientists, researchers and students are studying pharmaceutical prospects, seeking potential drugs that can treat or even prevent major diseases. They’re making use of the university’s braintrust and the formidable body of research that continues to flow from the UofA.

In short, they’re exploring the possibilities. Those possibilities could lead to start-up companies that could find their legs, if you will, in incubator space within the 27,464-square-foot building.

In turn, those start-ups could yield something like the next Ventana Medical Systems, one of the major driving forces in the Northwest and Tucson economies.

Until then, they’re attracting research dollars, creating jobs, bringing stimulating people to the Northwest … all good things for the future of the communities. People want to be in Oro Valley, Marana and the Northwest.

At a dedication event for BIO5 Oro Valley, Mayor Satish Hiremath hinted that more collaboration may be on the way. We should all welcome it. Oro Valley must continue to be receptive to finding spaces and creating places where innovation can be nurtured, be it from UA or the private sector … or both.

Dr. Fernando Martinez, director of the BIO5 Institute on campus, points to the major synergistic communities in this country, places like the Bay Area, North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Boston, San Diego, cities where education and industry create ideas, companies … industries, and the dollars that come with them. They all have something in common – great universities.

The University of Arizona wants to be that great university in Southern Arizona. Never has it been more apparent that UA a driving force in regional economic development and activity. It’s a role the university and its leadership embrace, and it’s further evidence that the Arizona Legislature needs to find ways to adequately fund higher education in these admittedly difficult times.

BIO5 Oro Valley is a big story in the Northwest, and its presence bodes well for the communities’ future.

— DPP

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