UArizona Launches Incubator Outpost at Biosphere 2

The University of Arizona Center for Innovation held a grand opening to celebrate its new startup incubator at Biosphere 2, which supports renewable energy and sustainable tech startups. 

UACI at Biosphere 2 was launched with four startups, all of which will go through UACI’s structured 27-point road map that takes them through a continuum of education provided by mentors, advisers and community collaborators. Entrepreneurs will use various physical spaces at Biosphere 2 that allow them to test and demonstrate the tech in specific environments.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins was joined by government officials, business leaders, innovators, community members and other senior UArizona leaders.

Biosphere 2 serves as a laboratory for controlled scientific studies, an arena for scientific discovery and discussion, and a far-reaching provider of public education. Its ability to combine varying scales, precise manipulation and fine monitoring together in controlled experiments provides scientists with the unique opportunity to explore complex environmental questions.

UACI is Arizona’s leading startup incubator network with 72 companies in the program and locations across Southern Arizona. UACI offers leaders of science and technology startups the benefit of connections with UArizona experts, incubation programs and the office and lab space needed to turn ideas and inventions into scalable and sustainable businesses that ultimately provide high-paying jobs and fuel Southern Arizona’s economy. UACI and Biosphere 2 united to provide the ideal partnership to translate research into impact.  

UACI at Biosphere 2 offers interconnected spaces intentionally designed and constructed to accommodate different types of users as well as bring together resources needed to advance technology. A proposed expansion includes developing a tech park that would allow corporations to collaborate directly with the research and innovation occurring at Biosphere 2. 

As a Research 1 institution, the UArizona is a leader in research in renewable energy, sustainability, water resource management, space and defense, mining technology, biotech and optical sciences. 

“The research expertise at the University of Arizona contributes to the worldwide effort to develop a more sustainable future. The inventions and innovation spurred from the university’s research drive a robust startup scene, and co-locating research and startup support services together will only build on this success. This future-focused environment, dedicated to moving innovations forward, provides the ideal platform for technology advancements and business growth,” Robbins said.

“Academic research and innovation may begin in a lab setting, but, through units like UACI, we ensure that our work reaches far beyond the university, enriching life for all,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, UArizona senior VP of research and innovation. “UACI has done an incredible job helping startups from the university and tech community realize their commercial market potential. Uniting these organizations will allow us to accelerate the translation of research to real-world impact.”

“It’s been nearly 15 years since the university took over Biosphere 2. It has been a time of incredible growth and evolution from when the Biosphere 2 was simply known as home to the world-famous, closed-system experiment of the 1990s. I am so excited about the new University of Arizona Center for Innovation collaboration that will build on the solid research foundation the University has advanced at Biosphere 2. Together, we will advance companies who focus on improving impacts on the environment, food safety and security, fit-for-purpose water, water access, and energy security,” said Joaquin Ruiz, UArizona VP for global environmental futures and director of Biosphere 2. 

“As an internationally designated soft-landings incubator location, UACI can now provide unmatched testing and demonstration opportunities to businesses across the globe,” said Carol Stewart, UArizona associate VP of Tech Parks Arizona. “The synergy between UACI and Biosphere 2 is vast and we intend to explore options to give startups a vantage point.”

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