For our 10th anniversary, we interviewed Robert C. Robbins, president of the University of Arizona. In this video, President Robbins talks about the university's startup mentality and how this is a place where innovation and opportunities to invent and commercialize impactful ideas thrive.
"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." – President Robert C. Robbins
We have a startup mentality at TLA. And I think that's been one of the beauties and ingredients of the success that TLA has had in just one short decade.
This is a place where innovation lives. It is so important not only to come and do the work of fundamental research, but it's work that can be translated into commercializable, tangible products that simply make the world a better place.
Anyone associated with the University of Arizona can come up with an original idea and take it the full process, through filing the patent, getting a company started, and becoming successful. in that original idea of what could make the world a better place.
The raw material – the pipeline for ideas to be commercialized – are truly phenomenal. And you think about places like Tech Square in Boston or Mission Bay in San Francisco as being the only places where this kind of stuff goes on. But it's not.
Companies are interested in a couple of things. Number one: they want to hire our trainees. They want to hire our students, either our undergrads or graduate students. They of course want to try to poach our faculty members as other universities do. But they are also interested in our intellectual property and our ideas.
There’s also a reset of the culture of the university to inspire people to believe 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.
We have to remain focused. We have to do a good job of educating and inspiring people to believe that you don't have to go to either coast; you can do it right here. And a good place to start right here at The Refinery.
It's not all about startups, because startups…some people really like that uncertainty and long grind that it takes to build something from scratch. Other people say, ‘you know I just want to focus on my teaching and my research, and I don't want to get distracted on all of that stuff that I don't really understand.
Your idea can be translated into commercializable product.