Tech Parks Arizona leader Carol Stewart has been promoted to VP at the University of Arizona. She advances UArizona under the leadership of Senior VP of Research Innovation and Impact Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell.
Stewart leads the UA Tech Park at Rita Road with her talented team of professionals that collectively have over 165 years of tech park experience and is developing the UA Tech Park at the Bridges. She is also president of the University of Arizona Center for Innovation, a technology business incubator network serving the university, Tucson and the international community.
Stewart has made significant progress and impact during her three-year tenure at UArizona. She has advanced Tech Parks by initiating the much-awaited development of the new UA Tech Park at The Bridges. Her work with a private developer, The Boyer Company, yielded an exemplification of how to not only construct a first-class building, but also materialize collaboration between industry and academia. The new project, called The Refinery, serves as the innovation hub for bringing together a continuum of support services to launch new business coming out of the university.
Stewart’s diligence toward creating communities of innovation has brought in the Marriott Springhill Suites, establishing a new hotel at the location and yielding 100+ hotel rooms to the area along with conference space. The first dedicated research building is also under construction within the new park at The Bridges. UArizona’s Mission Integration Lab is set to open in October and will allow researchers and engineers to build and test hardware for experiments designed to fly at extremely high altitudes at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. The facility is making the university even more competitive for top-dollar research operations such as NASA’s Long Duration Balloon flight missions.
Additionally, Stewart’s entrepreneurial expertise has transformed the university’s incubator network offerings through UACI. As president of UACI, she has developed the team to elevate the incubator both locally and internationally raising the number of startups currently in the program from 10 to over 80. Her strategic approach includes developing industry focused incubator outposts across Southern Arizona, establishing key international collaborations and identifying gaps in the startup continuum support services. UACI serves as an international model and was recognized in 2022 as the Soft Landings Designee of the Year by the International Business Innovation Association. She was instrumental in establishing two new industry-focused physical locations of UACI to address the needs of the community – the bioscience focused incubator, UACI at Oro Valley and the new renewable energy incubator, UACI at Biosphere 2.
“Our forward-looking approach to layering science parks and incubators into new initiatives and existing institutional assets has led to establishing several major collaborations, and monumental projects are on the horizon. There is tremendous opportunity for university-based economic impact using the tech park model. UArizona serves as a powerhouse in research so the opportunity to develop purpose-built environment such as living laboratories and test beds for new technology abound,” said Stewart.
Stewart has over two decades of experience with research parks, technology commercialization, and business incubation. As a pioneer in the research parks world, she has driven national policy, standardized programs, created national and international networks, contributed to the advancement of technology clusters, engaged stakeholders, and assisted countries with the development of their national science and technology policies.
As a leader in her field, she serves as the North American Division president for International Associations of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation, which is the leading association of innovation ecosystems worldwide. The global network includes 350 science park and innovation district members, representing 115K companies in 77 countries.
Stewart is passionate about her community and serves as a champion in university-based economic development. She is a member of Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Flinn Foundation Steering Committee, a member of the Canadian Global Mentor Program and she also serves on the Board of Directors for Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, Pima County’s Workforce Investment Board, Sun Corridor Inc., Arizona Technology Council, BIOSA, and Desert Angels.
Previously, Stewart served as the founding director of the David Johnston Research + Technology Park at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, was a founding board member of the Association of University Research Parks, Canadian Chapter, and CEO of AURP which represents the majority of the North American university research parks network. In this role, she collaborated with numerous leaders worldwide to build and grow university-related research parks through education, unification, and collaboration. She helped to expand the organization’s international credibility by showcasing best practices to research parks across the globe.