In its first three years of operation, Science Foundation Arizona used $50 million in research grants to attract $152.8 million from industry and government sources, according to a report compiled by an independent evaluator.

That led to direct creation of 1,151 jobs in a three-year period that ended June 30, 2009, said Ryan Helwig, an economist with Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.

In the year ending June 30, 2009, the foundation's grants created 394 jobs and its grantees created five new companies, the report says.

Science Foundation Arizona was critical to the continued existence of Tucson's Critical Path Institute, said Dr. Ray Woosley, president and CEO. "They made us real," Woosley said.

When local government money for the institute - formed by the University of Arizona and the FDA to speed drug development - dried up, Science Foundation Arizona stepped in with a $10 million commitment.

Woosley said the institute used that money to secure matches from industry and the Food and Drug Administration. "We estimate for every dollar given by Arizona, we brought in six external dollars," he said. "It helped us create four new companies, and we expect to do a lot more of that," Woosley said.

UA astronomer Roger Angel said Science Foundation Arizona helped him create a company to explore ways to make solar power competitive with fossil fuels with more than $1 million in funding. That money was then matched by the Department of Energy and some small private funding, Angel said.

Margaret Mullen, chief operating officer of Science Foundation Arizona, said the portion of state money invested in science education is an equally important part of the foundation's work.

"We've proven this model not only creates jobs and companies but creates a work-force program so employers know they have a well-educated work force," Mullen said.

In three years, the foundation spent $27.6 million on education programs in science, technology, engineering and math for 160,000 students and 2,900 teachers, according to the report.

The report on the foundation's results is required by the Legislature, which funds its grants and educational programs. The foundation's operating expenses are covered by members of the business groups that helped found it - the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, the Flagstaff Forty and Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc.

Last year, the Legislature "swept" the foundation's state money during the budget crisis. The foundation sued and the state ultimately restored $17.8 million.

Mullen said the foundation did not seek money in the current fiscal year from the Legislature and is hoping the governor will dedicate research money from available federal stimulus funds.

Ultimately, though, it needs an assurance of continued funding, Mullen said.

"This is not a giveaway," said Woosley. "This is seed money that creates relationships between businesses and nonprofits for the universities. I don't know of any state in the nation that has as sharp an arrow in its quiver," he said.

BY THE NUMBERS

Science Foundation Arizona results for FY 2007-2009:

$77.6 million

State funding

$152.8 million

Industry and non-state funding

16

Technology companies created

84

Patents filed or issued

11

Technology licenses granted

SOURCE: Battelle Technology Partnership Practice

Contact reporter Tom Beal at 573-4158 or tbeal@azstarnet.com