In honor of our 10th anniversary, we went back and interviewed people who have been key players in our history – from University of Arizona and TLA leadership to inventors and entrepreneurs to ecosystem advocates.
We're grateful to them for their time, energy, commitment, and vision in helping us reach where we are today. And we look forward to continuing to work with them – and you – as we move forward into our next decade.
We will be sharing the interviews on this page throughout the coming months, so watch our newsletter and our social channels on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook , and share them with your networks!
Doug Hockstad, Associate Vice President
"Don't worry about if you think you have an invention. Reach out to TLA to talk to us about the work you're doing... And we'll work collaboratively with you to hopefully move something from your work out into the world.”
Dr. Robert C. Robbins, President
"You don't have to be at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, or CalTech to make a big discovery and have it be commercially successful. You can do it right here at the University of Arizona."
Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell, Sr. Vice President for Research & Innovation
"The beginning of the chain is intimately what TLA does in partnership with the university. It's the ideation at the university and the perfection of that ideation into something that's business community can use... You have permission to think more broadly about what your potential impact can be than perhaps you thought. And if you've already thought about it, you have permission to take action reach out to TLA.”
David Allen, Former Senior Vice President
“Many people thought it was never going to happen. Many people thought it was the wrong thing. I think time will tell that it was definitely the right thing... I think the message is clear: TLA has only just begun.”
Jennifer Barton, Director of the BIO5 Institute
"Tech Launch Arizona has been revolutionary in the way that we think of bringing our devices to market, to translating them... I am really indebted to Tech Launch, both as the director of the BIO5 Institute and as a faculty member, for helping us know that when we have great ideas, they don't have to end at the lab – that we can have an opportunity to bring them out into the marketplace."
Rakhi Gibbons, Director of Licensing and Intellectual Property
"I've seen a lot of changes over the last ten years, and it's been an amazing journey with the faculty and researchers and students that we serve... It didn't happen overnight, and it took a lot of work on the part of our team to make that culture change happen."
Bruce Burgess, Director of Venture Development
"University research is obviously focused on the fundamentals of getting their (investigators') work published. But taking that next step, protecting that work, and finding avenues to make it commercially available is a key component to any ecosystem at a university."
Sadhana Ravishankar, Associate Professor, Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences
"TLA has been a very valuable partner in every stage of the process, and they made sure that it all happened for me. I didn't know anything and it was a really long road, but they were able to help me cross that long road with much ease, and it all magically happened."
Joseph Valacich, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
"It's been really a great relationship. I really look at TLA as a partner with the faculty who want to either commercialize their own technology, or take their technology and have someone license it for them. But it's been very professional. It's been very developmental in terms of helping me understand what we needed to do."
Jen Koevary, Research Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
"Working at TLA, the advantage was that I got to work on so many different things. The disadvantage was that I got to work on so many different things! I really wanted to have an opportunity to pursue that one thing and take it to that next level... Since TLA has developed, the ecosystem has sprouted up everywhere that it's more than just TLA. At this point there's Startup Tucson. There's venture capital funds that are starting. There's the Desert Angels, which existed before, but I think has continued to develop. And it's kind of like the ignition to this fire that ended up growing and growing."
Eric Smith, Executive Director, UA Center for Innovation
“When I saw the economic impact report put up by Tech Launch Arizona, to be honest, my first reaction was, ‘that's no surprise.’ I mean, this is incredible work, and Tech Launch Arizona represents the vehicle, the way for technologies to get from our university to the world... That impact number is a representation of a lot of partnership, a lot of collaboration, a lot of hard work, a lot of resources in the university, and Tech Launch is there as a guide so it can be successful in the marketplace."
Fletcher McCusker, CEO, UAVenture Capital
"We've seen other venture capital come to Tucson. What you're beginning to see is an ecosystem of funders now that can come in after us. It's attracted inbound faculty who are coming to the university with a patent because they've heard how aggressive we are and how tenacious we are in the monetization of an idea... Because (of) all the facets it takes to do that – product, money, inventors, investors, space – you know, if you want to start up a company, there's probably no place more affordable in the country right now than Tucson, Arizona."
Joann MacMaster, CEO, Desert Angels
"TLA has the common vision of the bigger picture, right? This isn't just about TLA. It's not just about the University of Arizona, and it's not about Desert Angels. It's about that broader calling that we all have to make startups meaningful. To make technology and research meaningful. And overall, to make the world a better place. TLA is doing that."
Dr. Steven Goldman, Professor, Division of Cardiology
"Since I've become involved in all these issues of intellectual property, it's crystal clear to me that the University of Arizona does a much better job allowing scientists, investigators, faculty students, (and) anybody that works at the university to commercialize their intellectual property. No question about it. And I would argue that the University of Arizona is better than Harvard and better than Stanford in terms of supporting their faculty."
Larry Hecker, Attorney, Hecker Pew PLLC
"I think the results have been much more entrepreneurship, much more capital formation, much more recognition of the importance of tech transfer – of moving the ideas out of the university and into the marketplace. I think the attitudes toward tech transfer have changed, and now I think the scientific research community sees the university and TLA as a partner: someone there that's to help not just to license the technology, but also to assist in the formation of new companies."
Marie Wesselhoft, President, ZelosDx, Inc.
"We want to support to build a strong community, but ultimately the markets that these products are going to be used is global. So that challenge of local and global is what I think we need to step up to in the future. Our ecosystem isn't just the state anymore. Our ecosystem is the world."
Carol Stewart, Vice President, Tech Parks Arizona
"It is such a joy to be part of this ecosystem and I really see us becoming much more seamless. The continuum, the innovation ecosystem, we need to make it so it's seamless for every innovation and innovator coming out of the University of Arizona... It was very symbolic that Tech Launch Arizona is the anchor for this building. It's really going to set the precedent and the excitement for the UA Tech Park at The Bridges for the next 5 to 10 years."