Arizona Horizon Banner

December 3, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Furnace – First 10 Startups

  |   Video
  • The first 10 startup companies have been selected to participate in the AZ Furnace Accelerator, an innovative initiative that encourages entrepreneurs to commercialize innovations developed at Arizona’s universities and research institutions. Gordon McConnell, Executive Director for Venture Acceleration at Arizona State University, talks about AZ Furnace’s first group of startups.
  • Gordon McConnell - Executive Director, Venture Acceleration at Arizona State University
Category: Community   |   Keywords: arizona, furnace, startups, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Arizona furnace accelerator is an innovative way to get -- innovative way to tap into the institute of higher learning. The first ten startups were chosen. The winners were picked from 50 applicants and will be using ideas from Arizona State University, the U of A and Dignity Health Arizona. Here to tell us more about the Arizona furnace accelerator is Gordon McConnell. He's with venture acceleration at Arizona State University. Good to see you again. And thanks for joining us. Give me a better definition of Arizona furnace accelerator.

Gordon McConnell: We wanted to take on unused patents from organizations in the state, which are mostly owned by the citizens of the state. The with the research. We want to translate them into new start-up companies by saying to the entrepreneur, come and look at these. And we'll back you in a competitive process to do new company.

Ted Simons: So, it's tech transfer kind of a start-up deal?

Gordon McConnell: Through a competition.

Ted Simons: Through a competition. Ok.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about that competition, because you have the ten finalists now. And who decides?

Gordon McConnell: So two, first an online system, the technology transfer office is in each of the institutions, looked at the teams, and said we are happy with these, and we think that they can take our technologies because they manage them. That was round one, and then round two was very tough, they had to go in front of a panel, and there was a ten-minute pitch, half the panel were made up of the two extraordinary funders. Arizona commerce authority and bioexcel, and of the transfer office is. I was not in the room. I was outside the room but the looks on their faces, it was a tough process.

Ted Simons: I'll bet.

Gordon McConnell: And we get ten winners.

Ted Simons: So the ten winners now are folks that will win what?

Gordon McConnell: They get six months, either with us and the innovation center in Scottsdale or they will get them in Tucson. And we will put them through a process that is very heavily mentor-led that will help to accelerate them from just teams with patents to real companies at the end six months. So, they are ideas you can move the company faster through these kind of acceleration processes, and we have done this before. You have had some of our student startups, and than you would if you were on your own so very intensive, a lot of late nights and weekends, and they don't know what they are letting themselves this is for but it should be fun for them, and hopefully we'll get good companies coming out the other end.

Ted Simons: We don't have time for all winners. Give us highlights here.

Gordon McConnell: It's interesting. Not just a job creation, there is a humanity angle here. I think is really interesting so you have got one that's looking at, at early detection of diseases like Alzheimer's Disease. And early detection of cancer. And you have got one that's looking at rehab development for people who have had a stroke where you can do it at home instead of in the hospital in an unobtrusive way, and one where 12 you can take tires and unused tires, and putting them in a particular fashion, adding them to concrete for roads, the road will be a better road, and it will crack less and have better traction. And you are also meaning that you won't have loads of tires lying around which we tend to do. They catch on fire, and as I'm sure you know in the news business, and also, the fact that you are using less concrete so a sustainable way of building better roads.

Ted Simons: And I would think less of these tires, there is some problems with leaching, with the products.

Gordon McConnell: Right.

Gordon McConnell: Less of that with concrete, so, you know, there is, a start-up taking content, which, and I think that we discussed this beforehand, I was very bad at learning math when I was at, at school. And this is way of doing that, and that they are taking content from some professors in ASU, and kids will learn math through games. So we know they are learning math, which is always the best way to teach, I think, younger children. So, really interesting ideas that have a real impact on humanity, not just case of let's do start-up for the sake of it.

Ted Simons: And this was research, whether it was using tires or biomarkers or games for math. This was research in initiated at the university?

Gordon McConnell: Mostly Federally funded.

Ted Simons: And companies said, we can take that -- 13

Gordon McConnell: They are brand new people. They are brand new, ten startups, literally coming to life, we're in the birthing stage of the, of it.

Ted Simons: They said that we can take those ideas, and we can run with it in this fashion?

Gordon McConnell: I'll put them into the real world.

Ted Simons: Ok, once they are in the real world and running with them, this is stuff that, you know, Arizona taxpayers have helped to support here, what keeps them in Arizona?

Gordon McConnell: Well, you know, we talked about this the last time, Arizona is a great place to do a start-up business, you know. From a taxation point of view. From the supports available through Arizona commerce authority. And the fact that it's a right to work state, the fact that there is a lot less bureaucracy, so, we have no problem with the argument for staying, venture capital is an issue but we think that a lot of these companies will stay on because they are linked with these teams, they are mixed teams with the academics who created the research, that was the whole idea, to bring the academics and these entrepreneurs together in a way that will probably keep them long-term because they obviously will keep working with the academics, and other patents down the line that they want to access more research that, they will be able to fund back into the university. So it's a two-way direction here, not just case that these patents and people are running with them. They will work with the academic community, as well, which will bring, lift both.

Ted Simons: So the idea is it makes sense for them, but there is no requirement.

Gordon McConnell: Beyond the six months, they technically corks but we're very confident between the supports that we issue, that our colleague and is the other institutions like the University of Arizona offer, and the fact that bioexcel and Arizona commerce authority are behind this from day one, and understanding that, that this is all about startups and risk in a way that many economic development organizations don't, I think that will be the key to keeping these long-term.

Ted Simons: It will be good to see how the companies do or ten, I guess they are now companies.

Gordon McConnell: They are in the process of becoming companies, yes.

Ted Simons: We'll keep an eye on them, good stuff and good to have you. Thank you very much.

Gordon McConnell: Thanks, Ted.

AZ Giving & Leading: Arizona Bridge to Independent Living

  |   Video
  • Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL) provides a variety of services to people with disabilities. ABIL President and CEO Phil Pangrazio talks about the organization and its Virginia G. Piper Sports & Fitness Center (SpoFit), one of two centers in the U.S. that is specifically designed for individuals who have various types of disabilities.
  • Phil Pangrazio - President and CEO, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: arizona, bridge, independent, living, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona bridge to independent living is a nonprofit that provides a wide variety of services to people with disabilities. One of the newest offerings is the Virginia G. Piper sports and fitness center. The 13 million-dollar facility opened a year ago. The funding came from private donation with $5 coming from the 2006 Phoenix bond election. Last week, producer David Majure and photographer, Steve Snow visited the fitness center, which is located near light rail at 50th street and Washington.

Video: The Virginia G. Piper sports and fitness center is a sports and recreation center designed for people with disabilities. We have got 4,500 square foot facility. It's got two basketball courts. We have a pool. We have got running track. We have a rock wall.

David Majure: Just off the main entrance is a rotunda featuring larger than life photographs of athletes at the top of the game.

David Majure: It sets a tone for what's possible with a lot of hard work and determination.

Joe Jackson: The center has helped me to train, and helped me to put on weight, which was the hardest thing. Before, I weighed 98 pounds. 20 pounds heavier now.

David Majure: 23-year-old Joe Jackson, an ASU engineering student, is using the gym to train for wheelchair Rugby. Jackson injured his spinal cord in 2005 playing football for Hamilton High. And while his football days are over, he says he never could have imagined life without sports.

Joe Jackson: No. I've been competitive all my life, and being an athlete helps with everything you do. You have that competitive drive, and play sports, whatever, live life.

David Majure: The sports and fitness center, they call it the SpoFit, makes it easier for people with all types of disabilities to live healthier, more active lives. They can climb rock wall. Go swimming. And participate in all kinds of fitness classes and sports. 16 Both casual and competitive. A membership cost $35 a month, but discounts are available for people on fixed disability income. And families are encouraged to work out together.

Gabe Gerbic: This is one of a kind. In the western United States. Unfortunately, your average gym doesn't cater to people with disabilities, until you end up with, with, perhaps, a facility that, that's, you know, accessible to get in the door at ADA compliant, but unfortunately, people don't go to fitness facilities to use the bathrooms or to use, the door.

David Majure: Gabe is the fitness coordinator. Helped to design the gym and select the equipment.

Gabe Gerbic: We wanted to design the facility around accessibility so that no matter who came through the door, it would be universally accessible.

David Majure: People with disabilities no longer have to sit on the sidelines. The SpoFit gives everyone an opportunity to exercise, and it puts athletes like Joe Jackson back in the game.

Joe Jackson: My goal now is to, let's say, 2016, make the Olympic team, paralympic team.

Ted Simons: And here with more on the fitness center is Phil Pangrazio. He's President and CEO of Arizona bridge to independent living. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. As far as abil, Arizona Bridge to Independent Living, what exactly are we talking about?

Phil Pangrazio: Well, it is a center for independent living. There is hundreds of centers for independent living all over the country. That, that were originally established by the rehab act in 1973. And you know, we started in 1981 to provide real core set of services, independent living skills. Pure -- peer support and mentorship, and to do advocacy, the independent living movement really was the disability rights movement that pushed for the Americans with disabilities act, and so, centers for independent living really were born out of the disability rights movement. To provide those basic services for, for people with disabilities. But from there, many centers like ABIL moved on to a lot of other services like doing home accessibility modifications. Offering personnel assistant services, and offering employment services. And social security work incentives counseling. And so, we have really, really expanded their, their array of services to people with disabilities.

Ted Simons: And I know the fitness center is on 50th street and Washington. It's located on the campus or within this disability empowerment center. What exactly is that?

Phil Pangrazio: We conceived of this idea. More than decade ago to, to bring together a group of nonprofit organizations, all 501c3s that serve people with disabilities. And we thought that, that to kind of create an incubator, so to speak, and an environment where, where all of these organizations -- it could make services to people with disabilities more convenient. More of a one-stop shopping place. And to get services and, and to, to create more collaboration opportunities, and to create the synergies that, that bringing us all together under one roof would do. So, we have got organizations like the spinal cord injury association, the brain injury association. And raising special kids. The M.S. society. The Valley Center of the Deaf. And Arizona autism united. The statewide independent living council. And of course, ABIL and few others. And so all of us together have, have really brought together a lot of different services.

Ted Simons: And how important is this fitness center to getting all those services and all those folks in there working out? You have got swimming pools, and basketball courts, and you have got the whole, rock climbing walls, the whole nine yards?

Phil Pangrazio: We do. And the sports and fitness center was the, the last piece of, of the puzzle. There twos basketball courts, the rock climbing wall, the fitness center with all -- every piece of equipment in there is accessible for folks with disabilities, but also, usable by people who can walk and can ambulate. So, it's not all for folks with disabilities necessarily.

Ted Simons: Now, I read that this is one of only two such centers in the United States. And you are telling me that maybe it's really the only one of its kind?

Phil Pangrazio: It's the only one of its kind that combined this disability services campus. With the sports and fitness center. And there is a, a sports and fitness center in Birmingham, Alabama, called health south, actually, built the facility. And they are more -- they are serving as the paralympic training site for the United States paralympic programs. And it is a big facility, over 100,000 square feet. Our facilities, 45,000 square feet, it is bit smaller on the sports end of it, but we also have the, the nonprofit organizations, piece of it.

Ted Simons: We only got 30 seconds left, what's next?

Phil Pangrazio: We're going -- we want to get the word out so that people will come down and use the facility. It's already been, we already have over 800 people that are members of the organization, of the sportscenter. And we just want people to know about it. We think that we're still getting people to learn about, about, that we're here, we're at 50th street and Washington. And we want people to come down and use the beautiful facility.

Ted Simons: It's great information. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Phil Pangrazio: Thank you.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you very much for joining us, you have a great evening.

Congresswoman-elect Ann Kirkpatrick

  |   Video
  • A discussion with Ann Kirkpatrick, who was elected as the U.S. Representative for Arizona's Congressional District One.
  • Ann Kirkpatrick - Congresswoman-elect, Congressional District One
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, congress, kirkpatrick, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Last month at the election results in Arizona are now official. The final ballot count shows that turnout was at 74%, that's down 3% from the last presidential election in 2008. Close to 3,000 more votes were cast this year. But the turnout rate was lower, because it did not match the increase in registered voters. And Ann Kirkpatrick is back in Congress. She was first elected to district 1 in 2008. She lost her reelection bid two years later, but won the seat back last month. And joining me now to talk about her return to Congress is Ann Kirkpatrick. Good to see you again, and thanks for joining us.

Ann Kirkpatrick: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: Why did you decide to run again?

Ann Kirkpatrick: People ask me to run again in the district. They felt like I had not done a lot for the district when I was in office. And approached me after I lost the election about getting back in the saddle so I did.

Ted Simons: And quickly. I don't want to get into the history, why do you think you lost two years ago?

Ann Kirkpatrick: The economy was bad. People were angry. There was concern about the affordable care act, which I supported. This time, people are, are interested in problem solving. Over and over again, I heard during the campaign, we want people in Congress who can get something done.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, what did you learn the first time that you can either put into practice or change?

Ann Kirkpatrick: One of the things that we did the first time is we had all of the Arizona delegation met for breakfast once a month. We would meet on the house side one time, and then the Senate side the next time. And that went away. After the 2010 election. And so, congressman-elect Matt Salmon has talked with me about it, and we want to revive that. And it's a good opportunity for the Arizona delegation, just to sit down and visit and let's choose those things that we can work together on.

Ted Simons: As far as your district is concerned, that is a big district. As you are well aware. Seems like it's bigger than it was before. How do you represent everything from mining interests to logging interests to small towns and big towns? 3 How do you do that?

Ann Kirkpatrick: The district is bigger than the, than the state of Pennsylvania but it's Pennsylvania with a population of 700,000 people. And lots of small towns. And it's very diverse. So we do have, we have mining, the timber industry, farming. We have 12 Native American tribes. And we have tourism. The Grand Canyon. So it's balancing those interests.

Ted Simons: How do you do that?

Ann Kirkpatrick: By getting out and talking with people and finding the middle ground.

Ted Simons: You do that, and again, first, back in D.C., we were talking earlier, it's five hours one way and five back just to get back here. And touch base, and then you have got to go to all these. How do you accomplish that? Are there ways? High-tech ways?

Ann Kirkpatrick: We used technology and will continue to use that. We did a lot of teletown halls when I was in office, and that's where, you know, people, we call it people in their homes, say, we're going to have Town Hall on this topic. Join us and join in. That's really good way because we could talk with people in Chin Lee, you know, up on the Navajo nation, and all the way down in Stafford and Thatcher, so it's a good way to unite the district on similar issues.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned earlier that people are looking for solutions now, as opposed to the attacking thing you heard before. You mentioned Town Hall, you were criticized for not answering, leaving a Town Hall, something along these lines, what happened there and it was that, was that something that seemed like it was a climate, an aspect of the times? What would happen there?

Ann Kirkpatrick: It was a Congress on the corner at a Safeway, we were there to meet constituents one-on-one so I was there with two case workers, and we had a folding table and couple of chairs, so, it was not designed to be Town Hall, but we went back and did a town hall. But, that got left out of the story.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Ted Simons: Because we want for make sure, you said, you know, that's why I'm asking, responsive to a lot of folks in different areas.

Ann Kirkpatrick: The one issue that really unites the district is economic development. And, and so, I have a vision, based on a lifetime of service in the district, and of a diversified economy. And all my life, Arizona has been in boom or a bust cycle, and so my, my vision and my goal is a diversified economy for Arizona.

Ted Simons: How do you do that, especially, you have got everything from mining interests to logging interests, small college towns to, to, you know, the smallest of towns. How do you make sure that first of all, you get the economic development going, but secondly, you got ecological concerns, environmental concerns. How do you do that?

Ann Kirkpatrick: It's been an innovation that distinguishes between a leader and follower, and not only my district, but Arizona as a whole has a great opportunity with innovation, and that's how we balance those competing interest. So we have got great opportunity here with biotech and bioscience but we also have emerging technologies like wind and solar, so Arizona's first wind farm is in congressional district 1 over by snowflake.

Ted Simons: What about traditional interests? The logging interests. Mining. You have got this resolution, what's going on with that? It's suspended. Are you going to do anything to revive that? Should it be revived?

Ann Kirkpatrick: We're very concerned about that. We need the jobs. So we've been watching that very closely, talking with advisors of this morning. And there is still a window of opportunity to get that done before the end of the year. And so, we'll watch and see what happens there. But, you talk about, you know, balancing, a model for balancing those competing interests. The forest restoration project is a great example so I was born in McNary, which is a lumber town when I was a kid. It had population of about 3,000 people, and now it's less than 300. Because the industry went away, but it's a new one. And so, that, that forest project was a model, for sitting down with conservative groups. Conservation groups. And chambers. And forest service, the timber industry. And really coming up with a plan that works.

Ted Simons: Is that a plan that can continue to work, though? Because the first contract was set up and there was a bunch of people upset about it. I guess they are going to be upset no matter what, but can it continue to work?

Ann Kirkpatrick: It can continue, and it could a model for other collaborative ways of solving difficulty issues.

Ted Simons: If this resolution compromise if, that can't work, if the logging industry as we once, as you certainly knew it with the big trees, if that seems to have gone the way of the do-do, as well, are people in these towns prepared if the future?

Ann Kirkpatrick: They need the jobs. They want the jobs, and they are embracing the new technology. And so one of the opportunities that we have with the community colleges, and to do workforce training, so that we'll have the skilled workers that we need in those industries. I'm very optimistic about it, I think it will an great opportunity for Arizona.

Ted Simons: As far as what you can do for Arizona, minority party there, in the house, how much can you really get done?

Ann Kirkpatrick: You can get a lot done. You know, in my first term, I did have seven bills that were signed into law. And every one of them had Republican co-sponsor. And it's process of building relationships and getting to know what people care about. That's one of the reasons why the Arizona delegation breakfast is so important. Because we'll find out, what issues are you concerned about? What we partner together on? And, actually, get things done?

Ted Simons: As far as the, the fiscal cliff is coming here, and this is, obviously, topic a back there, and I don't know at what will happen, but, what should be done there? How do you solve this?

Ann Kirkpatrick: Well, it can be solved. I was working with group of, of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Current and former members of Congress. And who would get together. We had one goal, and that was to balance the budget and pay down the deficit. And we took an item, subject, and we studied it. And we came up with good ideas about how to solve it. And we were going to get back and draft that into the legislation. That would work. And it has to be focus on, on good ideas. Regardless of where they come from. And that's what I'm looking for.

Ted Simons: But there is some who say that the best idea is to go ahead and tax those over 250,000, and others, in your chamber there, are saying, those are the job creators, you just can't do it. They are really at loggerheads.

Ann Kirkpatrick: I have a different idea. I think that we should keep the tax cuts for people who make 500,000. 8

Ted Simons: So up the level.

Ann Kirkpatrick: Right.

Ann Kirkpatrick: But that's another, let's think about this. Let's think it and come up with new ideas.

Ted Simons: As far as the affordable care act is concerned, it's the law of the land, is going to be there and you voted for it, and again took some heat for that. Should -- is it perfect the way that it is? Should it be tinkered with? How should it be?

Ann Kirkpatrick: It's not perfect. It is not perfect. It was step but one of the things that really has to be fixed is, is the physician reimbursement under Medicare. We have got to work on that so I've been meeting with groups, hospitals, CEOs, and I come from health care background. And I was one of the attorneys for Flagstaff Medical Center, for over 20 years. And so, a unique perspective from the operation standpoint of health care and running a hospital. And so, we're going to continue that work.

Ted Simons: And especially, in rural areas, do you find when you go back to Washington, or is there a group that you can meet with who had the same concerns? Because someone who represents urban areas, they are not going to understand what you are going through.

Ann Kirkpatrick: It's so true. And, it is more of, rural versus urban issue. Across the country. In terms of health care, and one of the things that we have a hard time doing, is attracting good doctors and keeping them. In the rural areas but here's another example of how innovation is our opportunity, and that's with telemedicine.

Ted Simons: You went back for oh, last question, you went back to oh, and obviously, and it is probably exciting times and optimism runs high, but a lot of folks see Congress as dysfunctional, what's your impression, what can be done?

Ann Kirkpatrick: It's relationship building, and the process is, is treating each other with stability. First of all, and just getting to know each other. Finding common ground. And so, issues like Veteran's health care, and that's not a partisan issue. And there are a lot of Veterans, and there are people who care about Veterans. And who are independents, Democrats and Republicans, and you find those people, and you put together some kind of collaboration and work together.

Ted Simons: All right. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Ann Kirkpatrick: Thanks so much.