Duncan named Innovation Campus director

jbrehm2, October 3, 2011 | View original publication

Duncan named Innovation Campus director

Dan Duncan, assistant dean and director of the Agricultural Research Division at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has agreed to become executive director of Nebraska Innovation Campus effective Oct. 1, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman announced.

Before his appointment in 2004 as assistant dean and director at ARD, Duncan served 16 years as director of the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center. The ARDC is a 9,500-acre research facility in Saunders County that serves as the main land-based research site for Lincoln faculty and graduate students.

"Dan has considerable experience working to connect faculty with the private sector and was instrumental in leading the university's engagement with Bayer CropScience," Perlman said. "His background in agriculture fits with the 'food, fuel, and water' theme of Innovation Campus. I am confident that he can work with faculty across the spectrum of disciplines likely to be engaged in this project."

Nebraska Innovation Campus will be a premier private/public-sector sustainable research campus that capitalizes on research growth and expertise of UNL faculty to strengthen the economic growth potential of the state and the university. Located on 232 acres north of City Campus at the site of the former state fairgrounds, it has been in the planning and predevelopment stages after coming into university possession Jan. 1, 2010. Under the oversight of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corp., Nebraska Nova Development LLC was selected in February as the campus developer. Nebraska Nova's managing partner is Woodbury Corp., which announced in June an $80 million first-phase construction/renovation plan centering around the former 4-H Building.

Together those plans — and a state-funded $25 million investment passed this year by the Nebraska Legislature — will lead to the immediate development of the anchor or central commons structure for Nebraska Innovation Campus, providing space for university research, incubator businesses or translational research, convenience or retail, tenant offices and labs. The first-phase project is set to be completed by April 2013. Meantime, university and developer representatives are focused on lining up tenants and potential private-industry research partners for the campus.

Duncan's primary responsibility will be to attract private sector tenants for Innovation Campus by engaging faculty as well as assuring that the development itself will respond to private-sector needs. He reports to the board, and will work with Ryan Anderson, director of industrial relations, who's focused on connecting research interests with private-industry interests for the Office of Research and Economic Development; and David Conrad, executive director of NUtech Ventures, the nonprofit university affiliate that commercializes university owned technologies. Duncan will continue to maintain partial responsibility with ARD management for a brief transition period.

Duncan previously was research operations manager at UNL's Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. He has been responsible for the Foundation Seed Division, an auxiliary enterprise for UNL that transfers seed technology developed by faculty to companies for commercialization; and he led Husker Genetics. Duncan has a bachelor's degree in agriculture with a master's in agricultural economics, focusing on agribusiness. He was also a partner in his family's farming and ranching operation for several years.

"I am excited to work with our faculty, citizens and the private sector to leverage our joint assets to create opportunities for all Nebraskans," Duncan said.

Duncan's office will be in the Whittier Research Center. For more about Nebraska Innovation Campus, visit http://innovate.unl.edu.