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ASU Research Park celebrates 30 years of university-industry collaboration

group portrait at ASU Research Park
April 24, 2014

The ASU Research Park marked its 30th anniversary on Monday, April 21, with a celebratory event at the park. Located at Elliot Road and the Loop 101 in Tempe, the 320-acre park, founded in 1984, includes 20 buildings that span 1.8 million square feet. More than 4,000 employees work at 49 companies in the park today.

Distinguished guests who made remarks during the April 21 event included:

• City of Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell

• Current ASU Research Park Board President and ASU Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, Morgan R. Olsen

• Former ASU Research Park Board Presidents Chuck Backus and Rudy Campbell

• ASU President Michael Crow

“Don’t let anyone ever convince you that you cannot advance an idea without all of the component parts,” Crow said. “Thirty years later, our research enterprise at ASU is 45 times the size it was in 1984.”

Today’s research park looks much different than it did in 1956 when the Arizona State College Foundation obtained the 320 acres of farmland for experimental farm use.

Plans began to find a new use for the farm when ASU disbanded its agricultural programs in 1979. It was not until 1983, following collaboration with several governmental agencies, that a nonprofit research park corporation was formed with authorization from the Arizona Board of Regents.

The park’s groundbreaking was held at the end of 1984, and the spring of 1985 brought the move-in of Transamerica – the park’s first tenant.

Industry and student collaborations

Global satellite and digital communications company ViaSat will soon be a Research Park resident.

Board President Morgan Olsen remarked during the celebration that ViaSat’s phase one plans for the park include a 116,000-gross-square-foot facility. ViaSat expects 200 employees to work at the park when its new building opens in 2015, with a commitment to grow to more than 400, he said.

“The company’s plan to create one of its engineering centers of excellence at the ASU Research Park not only will be a boost to the Valley economy, but also enables it to tap into the university’s wealth of knowledge resources,” Olsen said. “ViaSat can offer unique educational opportunities to our students that may benefit them now and after graduation, and collaboration with our scientists and engineers will benefit ViaSat’s work in the field of global digital communications.”

Additional ASU business partners that reside at the park include Avnet, The Institute for Supply Management, ASU MacroTechnology Works, Amkor Technology, and GoDaddy – to name a few.

GoDaddy announced it would locate its Global Technology Center at the park in May 2013. The 150,000-square-foot facility is slated to open this fall. The company will start with 300 employees in the park, and is expected to eventually grow to 1,300.

GoDaddy’s decision to locate at the park was a standout for Joanne Wamsley, ASU vice president of finance and deputy treasurer. She has also served as the ASU Research Park Board secretary/treasurer since 2010.

“The Global Technology Center will be a fantastic addition to the park,” Wamsley said. “It’s been exciting to see the maturation of the park and the southeast Valley over the past 30 years. The Research Park stands apart from other types of office parks because it provides our industry partners the opportunity to collaborate with ASU faculty and students.”

A current example of advancing research between industry and the ASU community is the park’s ASU MacroTechnology Works. Motorola built the facility, spanning more than 261,000 gross square feet, in 1997 for the semiconductor industry.

MacroTechnology Works currently provides a collaborative space for students, faculty and staff from a variety of disciplines who study and work in engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, physics and ASU’s Solar Power Lab. The building also houses the Flexible Display Center, which produced the world’s largest flexible X-ray detector prototype, and works in the burgeoning field of wearable computing devices.

Future opportunities

Park space is now available for future tenants and research collaborators. There are currently 350,000 square feet of buildings planned or under construction at the park. Twenty-six acres are available for ground lease in three parcels.

The ASU Research Park is managed by Sunbelt Holdings, which has provided management services to the park continually since 1992.