Gateway University Research Park
Gateway University Research Park is a collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T) and The University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG). This novel joint venture between NCA&T and UNCG is designed to facilitate collaborations between world-class researchers and businesses – to move scientific discoveries from the lab to the marketplace benefitting the local community, region, and North Carolina by transforming cutting-edge intellectual properties into thriving business ventures.
A $400 million master plan has been developed for the two campuses of Gateway University Research Park and when fully developed, the research park is anticipated to generate an economic impact of $50 million per year in the Triad. Upon full build out of the project, it is further anticipated that companies and agencies located at the Gateway University Research Park will encompass more than 2,000 employees.
Gateway University Research Park is putting space left over from the construction of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering to use as an incubator for new nano-bio startup companies. The space, which includes three offices, eight workstations and a shared laboratory, is in a neighboring building at Gateway’s South Campus on Lee Street.
The facility, dubbed the NanoBio Launchpad, is targeted at young nanotech and biotech companies that need flexible and inexpensive space. Gateway has set aside 2,500 square feet for the Launchpad initially, though there is room to expand.
The concept is similar to the Wet Lab LaunchPad in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter research park in Winston-Salem that also offers discounted facilities, said Gateway Executive Director John Merrill, though the space is set up as more of a “co-working” environment.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us because one- and two-person companies may not be generating enough revenue to pay for that individual space even though it’s so discounted,” Merrill said. “So the hope is that we’re filling a niche with a lower price level month-to-month.”
The idea for the incubator in Greensboro came from the N.C. Biotech Center’s Triad advisory committee, and the project was spearheaded by Merrill along with >Nancy Johnston of the Biotech Center, Randy Pool of architectural firm Stantec and Bill Dean, administrator at Pathologists Diagnostic Laboratory. Dean is also the former director of the Piedmont Triad Research Park, before it was rechristened as the Innovation Quarter.
Creative companies have discovered advantages to collaborative, co-working arrangements, and Launchpad organizers believe those translate to the scientific arena. “Ideas alone are not enough,” Dean said. “The NanoBio Launchpad … will provide high-quality space where entrepreneurs can create their companies through combinations of talent, knowledge, special nano support and networks to enable their innovation efforts.”
Merrill said there is room for five to seven companies in the Launchpad that will pay a fixed price month-to-month depending on the resources they use. The costs are $250 per cubicle unit, $350 per office space and $500 for access to the shared lab.
Ideally, Launchpad occupants will be able to benefit from the close proximity to the JSNN and the new Nanomanufacturing Innovation Consortium, through which private-sector nano organizations gain access to the expensive equipment and brainpower at the school. In the best case scenario for Gateway, companies that get started in the Launchpad will grow into traditional space in the research park’s current and future buildings.
The Business Journal, October 24, 2013
By Matt Evans, Reporter