Alumnus, Entrepreneur and VC Recognized as Arizona Business Leader of the Year
From left: Doug Stetson and Fletcher McCusker at the 2018 TLA I-Square Expo & Awards. Photo credit Paul Tumarkin/Tech Launch Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. – Each year, the Arizona Technology Council, in partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, honors technology leaders and innovators from across the state at its annual Governor’s Celebration of Innovation Awards. At the 16th annual event on October 24, 2019 at the Phoenix Convention Center, Tucson entrepreneur and University of Arizona alumnus Fletcher McCusker has been recoginized as the 2019 Ed Denison Business Leader of the Year. The award is presented to an individual or organization that contributes to Arizona’s technology industry through relentless community involvement, leadership, visibility and excellence in economic development activity.
“I am proud of what my community and my alma mater have become over the years and am very grateful to the countless people that help our community rise,” McCusker said. “I have been lucky and blessed to play a small part. We are a community of innovators and entrepreneurs now and this recognition has to be shared with President Robbins, Tech Launch Arizona and the great staff and faculty at the University of Arizona. Thank you to Governor Ducey and Mayor Rothschild for encouraging innovation and special thanks to countless young inventors and innovators that see the wisdom and value of calling Tucson home.”
A third generation Tucsonan, McCusker’s grandfather came to Tucson in 1929 when the population was just 35,000, and he has been an integral player and visionary in promoting the city’s growth over the years. He has been recognized as the catalyst for Tucson's revitalized downtown, especially when it comes to music. A member of the 1974 UA graduating class, Fletcher lived and worked in several cities before moving back to Tucson in 1996 to launch Providence Service Corporation, the country's first home-based healthcare provider.
He serves on two UA boards and was the University’s 2011 Alumni of the Year.
In 2013 McCusker launched Sinfonia Healthcare, his second large healthcare venture. Working with Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from research, he became a key business driver for UA startup SinfoníaRx. Based on a system invented by UA College of Pharmacy faculty, SinfoníaRx pioneered medication therapy management, designed to assure physician written prescriptions are safe, don’t conflict with other medications and are age appropriate and necessary. The company allows its clients to comply with Medicare requirements and saves them money by preventing unnecessary or ineffective prescriptions. Patient health is improved by direct pharmacist interaction and medication review.
”Fletcher has been an incredible partner for Tech Launch Arizona and leader in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southern Arizona,” says Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president for Tech Launch Arizona. “His passion for his work combined with his love of the UA have helped to support and launch many startups in these last few years, and he continues to be a champion for growth in this area in all he does.”
He and his partner grew that company into the largest provider of medication management services fielding 6 million calls each year and assisting 50 million patients by identifying potentially harmful drug interactions on the fly. Now, having been acquired by digital health care company Tabula Rasa, SinfoníaRx continues to impact the lives of millions of people across the country every day.
One of the problems that McCusker saw early on for Tucson and Arizona was a lack of growth capital. After the SinfoníaRx acquisition, he and his partner launched UAVenture Capital (UAVC) to address the challenge, investing in science, technology and intellectual property coming out of the work of UA faculty, students, alumni and affiliates.
Since its inception, UAVC has invested in at least seven companies, most of which are operating and growing in Arizona. The list of companies benefiting from UAVC investments includes: eARdg (augmented reality glasses), FreeFall (revolutionary new antenna technology), Qwick (connecting hospitality business to workers in real-time), Codelucida (error correction technology for cheaper, high-capacity, high-performance solid state data storage), Regulonix (powerful non-opioid/non-addicted pain killer), Post.Bid.Ship. (a disruptive application for semi-truck shipping), and SinfoníaRx.
"We look for opportunities to change the world, opportunities that could otherwise be lost,” says McCusker. “We choose to work with UA researchers, some of the brightest minds in the world and our focus is to be early, perhaps and often the first investment.”