Mayo Clinic Set to Start Work on 120-Acre Phoenix Biotech Innovation Hub

Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on March 2, 2023
Mayo Discovery Oasis
A preliminary rendering of what is envisioned for a new biosciences and medical campus on land Mayo Clinic purchased between its hospital campus and Loop 101 in north Phoenix.

A dream more than 10 years in the making for a Valley biotech innovation hub is finally coming to fruition.

Mayo Clinic has submitted its zoning application with the city of Phoenix to develop Discovery Oasis, a 120-acre medical and research campus adjacent to its hospital at 56th Street and Loop 101 in north Phoenix.

Discovery Oasis is expected to include advanced research and development, medical equipment manufacturing, outpatient treatment facilities and associated tenant amenities within 3.3 million square feet.

The goal is to establish a modern 21st century research campus to support Mayo’s existing hospital campus to the south, while leveraging Arizona State University’s Health Futures Center to the east.

“It’s an exciting step,” said Dr. Richard Gray, CEO of Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “Discovery Oasis is getting real.”

The new campus is intended to serve as a biotechnology ecosystem for many collaborators — from manufacturers to researchers.

If all goes as planned, Gray expects to break ground by the end of the year.

“Our purpose is to help accelerate Mayo Clinic’s vision for how health care needs to transform in the future — to make it more affordable, accessible, simpler and raise the quality everywhere, not just within the Mayo Clinic,” Gray said. “There is no way Mayo Clinic can do that alone. We have to work together for it.”

Long Process to Secure Land

ASU — which was the winning bidder of 24 acres just east of the Mayo campus at an Arizona State Land Department auction in December 2014 and already has built its Health Futures Center — is the first collaborator, Gray said.

In December 2021, Mayo Clinic was the winning bidder of a another state land auction, paying $139 million for that 228-acre parcel next to its hospital campus.

Mayo Clinic has been trying to secure that state land since at least 2013 when it was working with New York-based KUD International LLC to buy the acreage, back when Greg Stanton was mayor of Phoenix.

Mayo Clinic, ASU, KUD and Phoenix officials worked diligently to create a science and technology hub that was expected to create as many as 30,000 high-tech, high-wage jobs.

But after spending more than $1 million to prepare for that bid, KUD finally walked away.

Mayo Hospital Campus Phoenix

Mayo Clinic is wrapping up its $748 million expansion to double its north Phoenix hospital campus. Discovery Oasis would be built on the vacant land in the foreground, just south of Loop 101.
Mayo Clinic

By 2018, Mayo turned its attention to a project to double its campus and add 2,000 high-wage jobs. While it started out as a $648 million expansion back in 2018, it ended up costing closer to $748 million.

Within the last two years, Mayo Clinic has hired 1,831 people for these new positions, and hired another 222 physicians and scientists.

New Mayo Facility for Medical Students

As part of its capital expansion project, Mayo broke ground last April on its Integrated Education and Research Building, a 150,000-square-foot structure between its hospital campus and ASU’s Health Futures Center. The $134.6 million project is expected to be completed in 2024 to house Mayo’s medical students, who currently are based at Mayo Clinic’s Scottsdale campus at Shea Boulevard and 134th Street.

With the construction of that building, Mayo Clinic will nearly double its education and research capabilities and include 20 new biomedical and translational research labs.

With 120 acres being set aside for Discovery Oasis, the remaining 108 acres of that 228-acre parcel purchased at the state land auction will be held for future development, Gray said.

His team is preparing to launch a Discovery Oasis website that will include progress and timelines of the development.

He said he’s not sure exactly how long it will take to develop or exactly how much it will cost in the end.

“We want to make sure it’s the right collaborators to produce the right results,” he said. “We’re not looking to just raise it up as quickly as possible. We’re looking at bringing together the correct ecosystem. We’re not trying to put a strict timeline on it. It could be beyond 10 years to have that all accomplished.”

Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindutsry Association Inc., said Mayo Clinic’s vision for the Discovery Oasis creates an opportunity for industry partners to co-locate on the campus and tap into Mayo Clinic’s well developed health innovation resources and expertise.

“Arizona’s growing life science sector is well positioned to support this vision contributing talent from our world-class universities, entrepreneurial expertise and collaborative researchers,” she said. “We look forward to seeing the new Integrated Education and Research Building come to life and to welcoming new partners to the Discovery Oasis in the future.”