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ASU Looks to Expand Leadership in Bioscience

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Even though it does not feature a medical school, Arizona State University is making progress toward becoming one of the leading bioscience research institutions in the United States, following nearly two decades of aggressive investment and program development.

Since 2011, the first year the university began publishing research expenditure goals, its actual outlays have exceeded the stated target. The 2016 goal was just less than $500M. The actual expenditure was $518.2M. Since 1998, ASU has spent more than $4B in bioscience.

By 2025, the university has targeted $815M, an expenditure comparable to MIT, ranked as one of the world’s most prestigious research universities.

In addition to its internationally-regarded College of Nursing and Health Innovation, ASU’s College of Health Solutions has become a force in global Bioscience research, with programs in four locations and partnerships with 15 institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

Speaking to approximately 135 attendees on March 14 at the Arizona Association for Economic Development Luncheon, Rick Naimark, ASU’s associate VP for program development planning, gave a brief overview of the university’s efforts to date and outlined its goals for the future.

Innovation Requires Space

Pointing out that innovation cannot take place without space for innovators to do their work, Naimark highlighted the university’s productivity per SF has increased from $419/Net Assignable Square Foot in 2011 to $466/NASF in 2016. To meet its goals, expenditures/SF will need to rise to $560 in 2025. ASU’s Enterprise Plan calls for a roughly 475KSF increase in research space by 2025 to meet that demand.

At that pace, he said, the space for research facilities will grow at nearly 2.5 times the growth rate for teaching space.

One component of that growth is the currently under construction Biodesign C facility in Tempe. Targeted for $120M in development costs and a total area of 188KSF, the project is scheduled to open in June of 2018, he said. Among the research programs to be housed at Biodesign C will be the Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center in partnership with Banner Health.

A second project is the Health Solutions Innovation Campus planned on 24 acres near Mayo Clinic’s north Phoenix facility south of Loop 101. Naimark said development for this project will be going out to bid for design procurement in the next several months and, when completed, will offer programs in education, wellness research, entrepreneurial innovation and continuing professional education.

“We are really engaged with the Mayo Clinic,” he said. “It’s wonderful because they are such a high-quality organization, and we have so much to bring to them that’s not part of their set, it’s just a match made in heaven.”

He also expressed his hope that the 200 acres near the innovation campus site that currently remains State Trust could ‘draft off’ the partnership’s momentum and be developed into a fully-fledged bioscience community. “I could argue that this piece of land is probably the most prime parcel of land west of the Mississippi. With the Mayo Clinic and ASU as anchor tenants, this is going to be a very robust spot for development. We’re working with the State Land Department to try to help make that happen.”

The last project Naimark detailed was the planned expansion of ASU’s downtown biosciences offerings. The university has an agreement with the City of Phoenix under which it can develop seven acres downtown for bioscience research. Nutritional research will be one of the foci of those efforts with one goal as the creation of one of the largest nutritional research centers in the nation.

The project is currently in the initial planning stages, and Naimark said it will likely be privately developed, with ASU serving as a partner and providing oversight. The first building will be approximately 200KSF, with a target of roughly 1.5MSF to total space ultimately occupying the seven-acre site.

“We expect this to be a big economic generator for the future,” he said in conclusion.

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