Carol A. Stewart, Associate Vice President, Tech Parks Arizona, The University of Arizona

Carol Stewart: A Pioneer in the Research Park World

With an enriching experience of working with research parks, technology commercialization, business incubation, governmental relations, and business development, proactive leader Carol Stewart leads by example. Currently, Carol is steering the ship of Tech Parks Arizona as Associate Vice President at the University of Arizona, bringing her knowledge and experience after serving as a champion of Canadian innovation and entrepreneurship.

Carol is at the leading edge of innovation, willing to jump in and bring others along for the ride. Her diplomacy, political acuity, and steadfast leadership provide focus, stewardship, and vision to the networks she leads and which she is part of. She not only serves as a role model, but is a friend to this community, eager to collaborate and serve the University of Arizona, Tucson, and the international community.

Supporting and Mentoring the Community

Building on decades of experience in the research park world, Carol landed in Tucson, Arizona to elevate the success of the University of Arizona (UA) Tech Park and to build a second park – The UA Tech Park at The Bridges which is located closer to the main UA Campus. It was also Carol’s vision to transform the UA Center for Innovation into a business incubator network that not only serves as a vital part of the Southern Arizona entrepreneurial ecosystem but also as a key soft landings location for international businesses. Her commitment to the region is to advance the community and make a real impact through university-based economic development.

Leading-Edge Innovation

Tech Parks Arizona creates the place, environment, and interactive ground that generates, attracts, and retains technology companies and talent in alignment with the research, mission, and goals of the University of Arizona. It directs the UA Tech Park at The Bridges, and the University of Arizona Center for Innovation with the highest priority of recruiting companies seeking connections to the UA to locate at these facilities.

For over 25 years, Tech Parks Arizona has significantly contributed to regional economic development by advancing the University of Arizona’s impact in many ways:

  • Supporting technology innovation and commercialization
  • Generating economic impact through the UA Tech Park
  • Advancing new technology
  • Enhancing R&D efforts of industry

Leads by Example

In the opinion of Carol, the pandemic has motivated educational institutions and businesses to push beyond traditional activities and take new creative approaches. Carol and her team have seen the University of Arizona mobilize as an agent of change to support COVID-19 research, testing, and vacation site.

The University of Arizona mobilized quickly and has continued to inform the public through weekly briefings and lead the region as a Point of Distribution (POD).

The institution also took the opportunity to be proactive and review all of its assets and opportunities. The acquisition of the Ashford University, now UA Global Campus, is an example of being disruptive in these business unusual times.

Much More than Buildings and Conference Rooms

When asked, what is the one thing you would change in advancing knowledge worldwide, Carol highlights what has been achieved by scientists all over the world by collaborating on a vaccine solution and stresses that what can be learned and achieved with such concentrated endeavors. Carol states that we can collectively streamline the process to support businesses to not duplicate efforts. Ideally, there would be a worldwide database for businesses around the world to plug into. By showcasing organizations and their unique offerings, she believes startups would have more valuable resources which would supercharge their path to market.

The Best Workplace

Carol notes that culture is king. Employees and employers thrive in environments where networking and spontaneous discussions unfold. UA Tech Parks serves as the campus where community thrives, where emerging businesses and tech giants work side by side. The company has reimagined what the new workplace looks like post pandemic.

It is building flexible environments and developing programming that is highly adaptative to meet the growth trajectory of each business, including the nearly 60 startups that are currently in its UA Center for the Innovation incubator program.

Looking Forward

Prosperous businesses equal a prospering community. Carol listens to the needs of companies and connects them with the resources necessary. The business that connects with the collective expertise of the University can solve grand challenges to the problems society faces. She has never settled for mediocre and believes this has served her well. Carol sees many opportunities for collaboration and growth in Southern. Arizona, and works tenaciously toward those goals.