New partnerships, a burgeoning entrepreneurial vibe and expansion of world-class facilities have moved Nebraska Innovation Campus into the spotlight in Nebraska and beyond.
The private-public research campus adjacent to UNL celebrated its grand opening in fall 2015 and steady growth continues. Phase I construction is nearly finished, more buildings are in the works, more than 20 companies and organizations call NIC home and talks are ongoing with additional partners.
The biotechnology, food and health industries are especially well-positioned for growth at NIC, said Executive Director Dan Duncan.
The Biotech Connector, a 10,000-square-foot research space slated to open in December, is a major addition to NIC’s state-of-the-art facilities. The connector positions NIC to attract biotech companies from Nebraska and across the U.S.
“The connector addresses a vital, unmet need for wet laboratory space that small- and medium-sized companies will be able to rent instead of building their own, which can be cost prohibitive,” Duncan said. A $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration supports the project, a partnership between NIC, UNL, Nebraska Department of Economic Development, Invest Nebraska and Bio Nebraska.
In 2016, NIC also became headquarters for organizations working to enhance human health and well-being. The Children’s Center for the Child and Community joined in June. Created by Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, the group coordinates public health efforts to address childhood obesity, poverty, injury prevention and food insecurity statewide. Enhance Health Network, a coalition of nine Nebraska health care systems, located its corporate offices at NIC in January. The network partners with the University of Nebraska’s Rural Futures Institute to study rural health issues.
NIC’s creative energy got a boost in fall 2015 with the opening of Nebraska Innovation Studio, a 16,000-square-foot maker space for faculty, students, staff and the community. It features collaborative workspace and areas for woodworking, fine arts, and rapid prototyping and electronics.
During 2016, three new partners added to NIC’s entrepreneurial culture. Spreetail, a fast-growing e-commerce company, moved to the campus in the spring. Virtual Incision Corp., a faculty startup that develops robotically assisted surgical devices for abdominal procedures, also located at NIC.
In August, Epicrop Technologies, which is developing a system to boost crop yields, announced plans to locate at NIC.
Work to expand NIC continues. Construction began in fall 2016 on an 80,000-square-foot building to house offices and laboratories, the final addition in Phase I development.
Faculty startup is latest partner at NIC
Virtual Incision LLC to locate at Nebraska Innovation Campus
Faculty startup locates at Nebraska Innovation Campus
Nebraska Innovation Campus welcomes Spreetail as latest partner
New center at NIC strives for children's health solutions