Summit 2022 Recap: Our Steps to Advance Arizona’s Economy
State of Innovation

Summit 2022 Recap: Our Steps to Advance Arizona’s Economy

Continued investment in PEI’s Applied Research Centers and ASU’s Science and Technology Centers highlighted at 2022 State of Innovation Summit

Phoenix, AZ (xx, 2022)—  The Partnership for Economic Innovation (PEI), a passionate collective of business and community leaders dedicated to accelerating Arizona’s economic opportunities, recently hosted its second annual State of Innovation Summit showcasing the progress made in advancing Arizona’s economy through industry-led applied research and innovation partnerships.

The Summit was hosted by Dean Duncan, Executive Director of PEI, and Grace O’Sullivan, Vice President of Corporate Engagement and Strategic Partnerships at ASU Knowledge Enterprise and member of the PEI board of directors. The event included three panel discussions about applied research projects that are focused on growing industries in Arizona to support a thriving economy and grow the workforce. 

“As of last year, PEI has leveraged approximately $800,000 in taxpayer funds made available by the state to invest in applied research. According to a 2021 impact study from Rounds Consulting Group, every dollar of that initial taxpayer investment is projected to generate $4 to $5 in state and local tax revenues over the course of a decade. That ratio stays the same as state and private investment increases,” explained Duncan during the Summit. 

“I’ve seen firsthand how investment in every level of the innovation ecosystem has resulted in tremendous opportunities for our state – whether that’s attracting global businesses or inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs,” added O’Sullivan.

The first panel Scaling Applied Research for Health and Performance highlighted the growing wearable technology market, and how the WearTech Applied Research Center has supported bringing Arizona-grown products from the lab to the market. Kathleen Lee, Director of Applied Research Centers at PEI moderated the panel, panelists included Dr. Joseph Hitt, CEO of GoX Labs, Vicki Mayo, CEO and Co-Founder of TouchPoint Solution, Dr. Jennifer Blain Christen at ASU, and Dr. Zach Lerner at NAU. 

“Arizona is a vibrant state. Increasing the velocity of innovation and connecting our work to real-world industry challenges is what we need to do to go to the next level. PEI’s connectivity removes barriers to innovation, our partnerships are instrumental to making this happen,” said Dr. Hitt during the event.

The second panel Scaling Applied Research for Global Security covered ways the Blockchain Applied Research Center (AZ BARC) is overcoming complex digital security questions faced by nearly every industry today. Scott Carlson, Head of Blockchain at Kudelski Security along with Dragan Boscovic, Research Director at AZ BARC, and Arizona Representative Justin Wilmeth elaborated on initiatives driven by AZ BARC. The conversation was moderated by Wes Gullett, Director of Operations for PEI’s Applied Research Centers. 

“Continued investment in projects overseen by these Centers is crucial as they pave the way for economic growth while allowing students and industry professionals to co-develop a blueprint for Arizona’s growing technological needs, further cementing its position as a leader in innovation,” said Representative Justin Wilmeth, who serves as chair of the Arizona Legislature’s Blockchain Study Committee. 

Dr. Kyle Squires, Dean and Vice Provost of the ASU Fulton School of Engineering and Dr. Sally Morton, Executive Vice President of the Knowledge Enterprise at ASU among others also joined the Summit to discuss how students and faculty are taking research from lab to market through Science and Technology Centers, part of ASU’s core objectives for the New Economy Initiative. The Advanced Manufacturing and Energy/Materials Science and Technology Centers are already meeting the needs of future industries. Focusing on developing transformative technologies, they serve as a national resource for new energy materials driving device technologies to market.

“As we are successful, as new solutions are discovered, as new businesses are created, and as existing businesses are attracted to Arizona, the STCs are part of creating the pipeline of talented, driven graduates to keep our new economy going,” said Dr. Morton during the Summit.  

Delivering closing remarks was Chris Camacho, President and CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council and PEI board member who also encouraged Arizona residents to prioritize their investment in applied research and advocate for innovation.  

“We’re transforming the economy here in Arizona. This wouldn’t be possible without PEI bringing together our education institutions like ASU and working with our legislators, business leaders and city administrators to formulate strategies around making this happen,” said Camacho.

To watch a replay of these sessions learn more about the impacts of investment in applied research centers, visit Additional information about ASU’s New Economy Initiative can be found at


Partnership for Economic Innovation is a passionate collective of business, education and community leaders dedicated to accelerating economic opportunities for all Arizonans. We believe innovation's next challenge isn't exponential growth, it's exponential impact — which is why PEI is investing in community-building technology and R&D designed to make Arizona more resilient and empower innovators to bring world-changing ideas to market. PEI initiatives include:

  • WearTech and Blockchain Applied Research Centers are accelerating the development of emerging technology products with the potential to improve lives and create economic value.
  • Pipeline AZ, a career exploration platform creating more transparent pathways to advanced industry jobs and connecting Arizona workers to any training they might need to get there.
  • The Connective, Greater Phoenix’s internationally acclaimed Smart Region collaborative, convening cities, industries and entrepreneurs to lay the open innovation groundwork to solve regional challenges.


The New Economy Initiative supports the development of five Science and Technology Centers (STCs) at ASU that will position Phoenix and Arizona for national and global leadership in the New Economy. STCs nurture local industries and lay the foundation for Arizona to compete for nationally and internationally significant economic development opportunities that create high-paying jobs.

As hubs that allow industry to work directly with faculty and students to take innovations from the lab to the market, STCs will support a robust ecosystem of future-oriented New Economy enterprises that enable rapid transition toward a high-tech economy. STCs facilitate collaborative research, support startups and entrepreneurs, and create the jobs of the future through training of ASU students and upskilling of the current workforce. Deep linkages with industry will help STCs to establish a virtuous cycle of university research and education informed by market needs, which in turn stimulates industrial growth that benefits from ongoing university-based education and innovation.

The STCs supported by the New Economy Initiative will produce recurring, long-term return on investment for Arizona in five key clusters of future technologies.


Media Contact:

Erica Fetherston
10 to 1 Public Relations

Jay Thorne
Arizona State University