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New Biosciences Company Driving Innovation to Improve Patient Care

A new company that is gearing up to “change the entire field of microbiology” officially launched its objective Thursday with a grand opening of its new headquarters and state-of-the-art laboratory space.

Accelerate Diagnostics, which moved into Pima County’s public health department building on South Country Club, is working to develop a rapid infection-detection testing system that could identify pathogens within hours, instead of what can otherwise be days using current technology. And with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections on the rise, the company is also working toward rapid detection of drug resistance.

CEO Larry Mehren, formerly an executive with Ventana Medical Systems, said there were a number of advantages in moving the company from Denver to Tucson, including an affordable housing market and the proximity to the University of Arizona, as well as a growing sense of potential throughout the area. “This is absolutely the right place for us to be.”

He thanked the County, including County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, for the creativity involved with the relocation, including meeting the company’s needs for a specialized wet laboratory space that uses liquids to conduct experiments on bacteria and fungi.

Relying on a low-interest loan from the Arizona Commerce Authority, the County developed the lab space, which will be able to support biotech research for years to come.

“We saw the potential of what could be,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Ramón Valadez, applauding what he characterized as the first of many future milestones. Through the efforts of a lot of creative people, he added, “We have come up with a solution that fits and that not only fits today, but fits into the future to help this industry grow in our community.”

Mehren has already hired 30 people and is continuing to hire other scientists and engineers, with the potential to double the staff within the next year.

“These folks are just the vanguard of what is to come,” he said, adding he also anticipates his company’s success will also attract other similar companies.

Steve Eggen, the Chairman of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities, said the company serves as an example of the bigger blueprint to grow biosciences. “This is really a great, tangible seedling of what we want to do in really getting into the biosciences,” he said. “It’s exciting to see it.”

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