Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 24, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

sky Song


  • skySong, Arizona State University´┐Żs high-tech business center, officially opens this week. Julia Rosen, ASU Associate Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SkySong, will tell us about the facility.
Guests:
  • Julia Rosen - Associate Vice President,Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Arizona State University
Category: Business/Economy

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Arizona State University's Skysong officially opens this week. It marks the completion of the first 157,000 square foot building at the corner of McDowell and Scottsdale road in Scottsdale, at the site of the old Los Arcos mall. ASU calls the project an innovation and international business center, with 20 global businesses already in partnership with Skysong. Skysong will also house 10 ASU sites, and will include residential and retail space. It will feature a huge tent structure when completed. I'll talk to a Skysong official about the project, but first Mike Sauceda tells us about one of the tenants in the new building.

Bashire Manji:
It shows up as being one of the top two or three spots in the natural search spaces in the search there that this consumer ran for a restaurant in south end.

Mike Sauceda:
Local Life USA CEO Bashire Manji demonstrates his company's web search engine, which provides a sort of an internet yellow pages for local businesses totally free of pop-ups.

Bashire Manji:
Local Life really is a combination of a local directory, combined with local services that we offer to small to medium-sized businesses in order for them to link to that directory. In the U.S., what that means basically is that we're going to be creating well over 2,000 direct rest to cover each and every city, each and every town, each and every zip code you can think of, providing each community with their specific directory where by the directory would have all of that information about the business, the community, everything there that an individual would need to know about that local community when they do a local search.

Mike Sauceda:
Local Life is bringing it's concept to the U.S. the company comes here after years of success in the UK with revenues coming from companies buying into the service and from web design. Local Life gives businesses a top spot on search engines. When the company decided to move into the U.S. market it looked at four different possible locations: Miami, San Francisco, New York and the Phoenix area. Once Local Life picked out the Valley it searched out various locations before picking Skysong at Scottsdale and McDowell.

Bashire Manji:
The capability that ASU brought to the table through the opening up of the academics area to us, the ability for us to tap into the students, and then coming here to Skysong and looking at this facility and what this facility had to offer and the capabilities that this facility had to offer, all these things really drove us to that decision, all of the management saying, "Believe gentlemen, this is it. This is going to be our home." Possibly not just a home for the U.S. office but we are to be looking at this as the home for the global offices here.

Mike Sauceda:
Besides the advantages of being connected with ASU, Manji says there will be advantages with having other high tech companies at Skysong. By May Local Life should have about 30 employees and temporary offices on the second floor with the company planning to move to the fourth floor. Manji says the number of employees could eventually grow to 4,000. Whatever the number, those employees will have a very modern looking building to work in with a cafe in the middle of the second floor, clocks with times from around the world reflecting the countries with companies in Skysong and the latest technology available to them, like video conferencing in the conference rooms.

Bashire Manji:
What better way to be able to do it right out of our offices right here at Skysong, have this conference room available to us in addition to other facilities and to be able to have online all our team managers from the UK as well as the key managers from France discussing our global planning. The support that we receive really from Skysong, from ASU, is really very promising. And we're just excited as heck to be here and be a part of Skysong.

Ted Simons:
Here now to tell us more about Skysong is Julia Rosen, Associate Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ASU. Julia, good to have you here.

Julia Rosen:
Thank you.

Ted Simons:
We just saw one company all set to go there at Skysong. How many companies overall do you think will be there?

Julia Rosen:
It's hard to tell who will be there when the project is finished in 2015. But right now we're working with 27 companies, 20 companies from abroad and seven from the U.S.

Ted Simons:
And these are established companies, startups, a little bit of both?

Julia Rosen:
A little bit of both. We work with a number of entrepreneurs around the world that have product and sales in their home country and are interested in accessing the U.S. market but do not yet have a way to do so. Skysong is essentially their soft landing into accessing the U.S. market. We also have larger companies such as Canon that is leasing quite a bit of space at Skysong.

Ted Simons:
There does seem to be an emphasis on the international businesses there.

Julia Rosen:
Absolutely. When we first started developing this project, we realized that in addition to revitalizing southern Scottsdale and providing an important place for ASU's entrepreneurial units to more productively engage with the outside world, we wanted to also build a missing piece of Arizona's infrastructure that was a global portal it, brings companies from around the world to locate at Skysong, but also provides the place for local entrepreneurs to convene.

Ted Simons:
Can you talk about the recruiting process? How is a company like the one we just saw, how were they recruited?

Julia Rosen:
They were actually recruited by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. We worked very closely GPAC, with the city of Scottsdale, with our partners at the Arizona Department of Commerce, as well as folks throughout ASU, that have very powerful connections globally.

Ted Simons:
Okay. There will be retail at Skysong?

Julia Rosen:
Absolutely. Skysong will be a true mixed-use community. So we'll have cafes and book stores and restaurants. We'll have residential units, open space, a large shade structure with water features that will really be a place where people can work, live and play.

Ted Simons:
I want to go back to the idea of convergence and these businesses working together. Talk about that dynamic there and how that would work.

Julia Rosen:
We're focusing on three main industry sectors: information & communication technology, sustainable technologies and educational technologies. Within each of these factors we have a number of companies large and small not only interested in engaging with each other but engaging with ASU units that can help them develop new research, can help provide new employees to them and can just help them become more productive and increase their sales in the United States.

Ted Simons:
Talk about how ASU offers a chance for some of these companies to get involved in research.

Julia Rosen:
Well, we have specific staff members actually that work with the companies and really analyze each company on a case-by-case basis, tries to understand their hiring needs, do they need student interns, what kinds of research are they interested in, are they interested in technology venturing, are they interested in customized executive education. So our staff goes back into the university and connects them with the appropriate units and then follows back up to make sure that ASU is in fact delivering as much as we can to these companies so that they will be successful and expand their presence in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
So you've got the students coming in to help out and learn and the companies taking advantage of the students in terms of teaching and getting product.

Julia Rosen:
Absolutely. And it's really important for our students to be able to work in these companies. Traditionally a lot of career service is focused on work experience in large companies, and our students are getting the ability to work not only with small, fast-growing enterprises, but those with a global flavor.

Ted Simons:
For those who don't live near the old Los Arcos, maybe live across town or whatever, what does Skysong mean to them?

Julia Rosen:
We hope Skysong will not only be an amenity for the state and for the region, but will really be a place where neighbors can come and take a walk down the shaded boulevards, play in the water fountain, take advantage of the open space, have a cup of coffee there, in addition to hosting community meetings. We're working very closely with the schools, actually, to conduct a number of different student and faculty and administrator events over the summer at Skysong.

Ted Simons:
Got to ask you about that sail. What's it made of and is it going to hold up if the monsoon hits?

Julia Rosen:
Our development partners absolutely assure us this structure has been battle tested in the Middle East where conditions are at least as difficult as they are in Arizona. And so we are very optimistic it will be just fine.

Ted Simons:
And it will be up in time for the monsoons to end, I would imagine. Probably this fall sometime?

Julia Rosen:
We're hoping after the monsoons.

Ted Simons:
All right. Julia, thank you so much for joining us.

Julia Rosen:
Thanks so much.

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