Research at Nebraska 2019-2020 Report
Hand sanitizer is being made at Nebraska Innovation Campus thanks to a collaboration between the Food Innovation Center and the Nebraska Ethanol Board. April 6, 2020. Photo by Craig Chandler / University Communication.

Innovation Hub Builds on Decade’s Success

Innovation, collaboration and economic growth are hallmarks of Nebraska Innovation Campus’ first decade.

The former Nebraska State Fairgrounds has transformed into a thriving public-private research innovation hub where partners collaborate with Husker faculty and students. With 455,000 square feet of office, conference, manufacturing, teaching, research and greenhouse space, NIC is home to more than 50 partners.

In 2019, NIC generated a $324.1 million economic impact, 1,657 jobs and nearly 100 student internships.

But the work is far from done, said Dan Duncan, NIC’s executive director.

Innovation Campus during early stages of construction.

“We’re thrilled with how quickly NIC is developing. Our pace places us among the fastest-growing research parks in the United States,” Duncan said. “But looking forward, we’re expecting even greater growth, with the goal of becoming a 2.2 million-square-foot campus in the next 20 years.”

After completing the $15.3 million, 75,000-square-foot Rise Building in early 2019, developers broke ground on The Scarlet Hotel. The six-story hotel will have 154 rooms for conference attendees, clients of NIC businesses and visitors. The building, slated for completion in July 2021, will include learning spaces for Husker students studying hospitality, tourism and restaurant management.

“Our pace places us among the fastest-growing research parks in the United States.”

Dan Duncan

NIC’s partnerships are also growing. Recent additions include Celerion, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, and CropX, an international soil sensing and agricultural analytics company.

Existing partners are thriving. Medical device company Virtual Incision recently raised $20 million in Series B+ investment funding. Funds will support the path to commercializing its surgical robot platform, a tool for minimally invasive abdominal surgeries.

Adjuvance Technologies, a biopharmaceutical company focused on vaccine design and manufacturing, received a more than $500,000 contract from the National Institutes of Health to improve the influenza vaccine. It also received NIH funding for COVID-19 vaccine research.

Quantified Ag, a startup developing smart technology for ear tags that monitor cattle health in real time, was acquired by Merck Animal Health, a global business.

NIC’s decade of investments in partnerships, infrastructure and talent has positioned Nebraska to meet emerging high-stakes challenges. When the COVID-19 pandemic flared, Nebraska researchers tapped NIC’s facilities and partnerships to produce much-needed hand sanitizer, face shields and disposable protective gowns for Nebraska and beyond.

“Ultimately, the work we’ve put in to unite university researchers with companies and to provide them with cutting-edge facilities and equipment is about bringing together problem-solvers who can collaborate to solve real-world problems,” Duncan said.

+ Additional content for Innovation Hub Builds on Decade’s Success

Nebraska news release: The Scarlet aims to capture Nebraska in a night’s stay

Nebraska news release: Celerion expands clinical research to Nebraska Innovation Campus

Nebraska Innovation Campus news release: The Combine welcomes international ag-analytics company CropX with new ties to Nebraska

Nebraska news release: Faculty startup Virtual Incision receives another $20M investment

Media mention: Lincoln biotech company gets contract to improve flu vaccine (Lincoln Journal Star, 8/19/2019)

Media mention: Lincoln-based startup Quantified Ag acquired by Merck Animal Health (Silicon Prairie News, 6/24/2020)

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