Bioscience Funding in Arizona: What’s All the Buzz About?

There’s a $195 million foundation based in Phoenix that’s dedicated to advancing biosciences in Arizona. But why this particular industry, and why Arizona?

According to a Flinn Foundation report, Arizona’s bioscience industry has 106,846 jobs generating an average wage of $62,775—a whopping 39 percent higher than the average private-sector income. On top of that, the bioscience industry earns the state over $14 billion, which doesn’t even include hospitals throughout the state. Throw hospitals into the mix and that figure is over $36 billion.

Related: Read IP’s profile of the Flinn Foundation

The Flinn Foundation put together a report called Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap 2014-2025, which  features five overarching goals, 17 strategies, and 77 potential actions. The foundation envisions Arizona as an entrepreneurial hub that turns research into medical practice and trains innovative new health professionals. This all comes after the Battelle Technology Partnership released a 2002 study that found Arizona possessed many of the essential elements to become a global leader in niche biosciences if the state boosted its research base and increased industry jobs.

“Arizona is now known as a top emerging bioscience state,” said Jack Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “But we have far to go to reach our full potential.”

Meanwhile, the city of Phoenix, Mayo Clinic, and Arizona State University have been working to develop a 225-acre biomedical corridor in north Phoenix. This will be a new proton beam radiation therapy center that will employ around 30,000 people and cost over $180 million. The new center will join the scattering of leading-edge cancer care facilities in downtown Phoenix and the Phoenix metro area that already exist.

Biosciences in Arizona include these six segments:

  • Agricultural feedstock and chemicals
  • Drugs, pharmaceuticals, and diagnostics
  • Research, testing, and medical labs
  • Medical devices and equipment
  • Hospitals,
  • Bioscience-related distribution

Although hospitals provide the most jobs (83,301 in Arizona), the highest wages and the most local establishments are related to bioscience distribution. According to a 2014 profile, there are 771 bioscience distribution establishments in Arizona and the average annual wage in this industry is $128,507.

So it seems that an investment  in Arizona biosciences is pretty much a direct investment in the local economy. And in that regard, the Flinn Foundation is as much of an economic development funder than anything else.

But keep in mind that although biosciences are top priority for this Arizona funder, less than a dozen new biosciences grants are awarded each year. To learn more about Flinn’s bioscience program, check out the foundation’s Program Interests page or contact the staff at