Nebraska Innovation Campus ideas, approaches sought

Released on 07/11/2008, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., July 11th, 2008 —

Developers and planners with ideas and approaches to University of Nebraska-Lincoln's proposed Innovation Campus are being asked to respond to a Request for Information that will inform the university and outline ideas on development approaches to the private/university research partnership.

Following the receipt of informational proposals deadlined Aug. 15, university planners will review the submissions and invite three to five developers to campus for further proposal discussions. T

he Innovation Campus concept is a proposed redevelopment of State Fair Park into an Innovation Campus, to exploit the opportunity of private sector co-location with the university's basic and applied research to create opportunities for economic development. This would come through mutual research projects with university faculty, internships by university students, access to scientific advancement with cutting-edge research for private industry employees, and opportunities for sharing expensive core facilities and instrumentation.

"The Nebraska Innovation Campus has already generated national interest and several developers have contacted us already," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "This Request for Information will open up the process widely and give developers an opportunity to become involved and for us to gain additional insights into a variety of approaches. This is a unique opportunity and we're hopeful unique approaches and ideas we haven't yet thought of will be offered." Developers are directed to the UNL Purchasing Web site (http://purchasing.unl.edu) and navigating to the "bidding opportunities" linkwhere the RFI is posted. Developers are also being contacted directly about the opportunity.

Agricultural biotechnology and life science research are anticipated to be strong components of the campus. Other areas of university research strength that provide opportunities for viable partnerships include food science and food safety, robotics, computer technology, laser sciences, transportation, energy sciences and alternative energy.

The property is the current location of the Nebraska State Fair. Most of the existing structures will be removed. The 4-H, Industrial Arts Buildings, and State Arsenal have cultural and historic significance and are under evaluation for restoration and integration into the Innovation Campus. The Devaney Center and Coliseum (Ice Box) will be retained. Consideration must be given to relocation or retention of the Heritage Village, a collection of 19th century buildings used in local elementary school education. Major repairs and updates to the infrastructure are needed. Recent initial reports estimate that it would require $10 million to address the major infrastructure deficiencies in roads, sidewalks, water, sewer and electrical systems to bring the current State Fair Park up to standard. Additional infrastructure upgrades are necessary to support a research and development campus. Significant portions of the property are in the flood plain, and local flood plain regulations will impact the development of the campus.

"We have talked to some developers who may be willing to make the necessary infrastructure investments for us and this would, of course, ease the financial burden on the university," Perlman said.

The request includes information pertaining to potential partnerships, land development possibilities, financing options for necessary infrastructure improvements, and phasing. UNL will review submissions from developers/firms and work directly with companies that demonstrate knowledge in large development projects and show evidence of experience in the development of research campuses and/or large private-public land developments. UNL leaders will use the information provided by the RFI to craft a formal RFP for the development of the Nebraska Innovation Campus. The development firm selected from the RFP process will become a partner with UNL leaders and planners to develop a long-term master plan for the property.

Questions can be directed via e-mail to InnovationCampus@unl.edu.

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