The University of Arizona has opened its new biotech-focused business incubator in Oro Valley, with a UA technology spinoff as its first tenant.
The UA Center for Innovation at Oro Valley occupies 4,000 square feet in a new building at 1800 E. Innovation Park Drive.
Venture West Group, developer of Oro Valley’s Innovation Park, broke ground on the building last fall after a fundraising effort spearheaded by the Oro Valley Innovation Labs, a nonprofit started in 2015 by a consortium of biotech, academic and government entities including the Bioindustry Organization of Southern Arizona (BioSA).
The new building features office, lab and meeting space for up to eight companies, and has 2,000 square feet of additional space for expansion.
The center’s first tenant is TheraCea Pharma, a UA drug technology spinoff that in early November was named winner of a “sponsored launch” competition for a slot in the incubator sponsored by BioSA.
The startup was awarded entry into the UACI program for a year starting Dec. 15. The UACI program provides office and lab space, mentoring, funding opportunities, prototyping and marketing and business support. The award package also includes $5,000 cash, for a total award value of $15,000.
TheraCea Pharma develops diagnostic positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents for the detection of cancer, cardiology, neurology and infectious diseases.
The company’s technology platform is a new chemical process enabling efficient, quick and high yield preparation of diagnostic agents, developed at the UA and licensed to TheraCea through Tech Launch Arizona.
TheraCea is led by co-founder and CEO Iman Daryaei, who got his doctorate in biological chemistry from the UA in 2016; co-founder and chief business development officer Justin Jeffery; and Chief Technology Officer Arthur Shaw, a Ph.D. medicinal chemist who was a principal at Icagen in Oro Valley.
The founders worked with Tech Launch Arizona and developed their business through the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona Eller College of Management.