Nebraska Innovation Campus is taking shape adjacent to UNL.
Construction began in fall 2012 on the first buildings for the 232-acre private-public research campus. It’s being developed as a world-class campus that is a conduit for innovation – connecting companies, entrepreneurs and university researchers in a collaborative environment to help fuel Nebraska’s economy.
“Engagement with the private sector on Nebraska Innovation Campus will enhance the application of university research and create jobs to absorb the talent of our graduates,” said UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman. “Innovation Campus is the logical next step in pursuing our two priorities of undergraduate education and research, based on the objectives of attracting talented young people to Nebraska and providing them with jobs when they graduate.”
Four buildings being built or renovated in the initial construction phase will open in late 2013 and early 2014, providing about 280,000 square feet of space for diverse research and office needs.
The campus site previously housed the state fairgrounds, and NIC’s design incorporates two historic structures, the 4-H Building and the Industrial Arts Building.
Conceptual illustrations of Nebraska Innovation Campus Phase I buildings from different perspectives. Bottom left: Dan Duncan in front of NIC companion building illustration.
The renovated former 4-H Building and new companion wing will be completed first. This complex will feature a commons area and office, meeting and conference space.
“This will be the front door to Nebraska Innovation Campus,” said Dan Duncan, who became NIC’s founding executive director in October 2011.
A life sciences collaboration facility will open next. It will consist of the repurposed Industrial Arts Building, including state-of-the-art greenhouses and other space, linked to a major life sciences research building with labs for the university, private industry and startup companies.
“In short, we’re open for business.”
The past year also brought significant progress on the plans and business structure critical to NIC’s success. Discussions with interested companies are ongoing, with the first corporate partnership announcement expected in late 2012. Flexibility will be the cornerstone of NIC’s business structure, Duncan said, enabling a wide range of collaborations and partnerships with private partners.
“In short, we’re open for business,” he said.
Building Private Partnerships
Whether it’s a potential corporate partner for Nebraska Innovation Campus, a company seeking faculty research expertise or an entrepreneur launching a research-based startup, UNL takes a collaborative approach to building business relationships.
Industry Relations, NUtech Ventures and Nebraska Innovation Campus staff work closely to offer companies and entrepreneurs the widest possible range of partnership options.
Each group’s distinct role strengthens overall efforts to expand private partnerships at many levels that benefit both businesses and the university, said Ryan Anderson, director of Industry Relations, which serves as the “front door” for companies, entrepreneurs and organizations looking to work with the university.
“We leverage each other’s expertise,” said Dan Duncan, NIC’s executive director. “We want to be user friendly, whether a company is working with Industry Relations, NUtech or NIC.”
The focus on building relationships is important, said David Conrad, executive director of NUtech Ventures, the nonprofit corporation responsible for commercializing UNL research. “By building trust and respect among companies and faculty, you greatly increase the likelihood of successful partnerships.”