University Research Parks Pay Their Way and More
Pam Marrone knows her way around the University of California (UC), Davis. She should. Marrone has started three biotechnology companies adjacent to the campus. Entotech, bought by Abbott Labs, was closed down. AgraQuest, acquired by Bayer, remains as does her latest company, Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI).
“It was a deliberate choice to locate Marrone Bio Innovations next door to UC Davis, and we have no plans of going anywhere else,” said Marrone. “Locating here was a strategic business decision. We look upon having access to the UC Davis staff , facilities, graduates and students as a competitive advantage.”
Marrone cited the ability to utilize sophisticated nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and fermentation equipment, and the expertise that goes with it, as vital for product discovery and development. MBI also takes full advantage of student interns for “the energy and enthusiasm they bring to our company.” This also gives the company first chance to off er positions to, as Marrone described them, “the best and brightest students from the top ranked agricultural university in the world.”
PARKS OFFER UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES
Although other university spokespersons might argue with her ranking, they wouldn’t likely argue with her sentiments. The benefi ts she described and the results she demonstrated with the companies she has founded are the reasons the Purdue Research Park was founded in 1961 and the University of Wisconsin University Research Park was founded in 1985. They are also part of the reason the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) founded the Nebraska Innovation Campus in 2009. No doubt, the other 166 research institutions with research parks would agree.
“The essence of why we have research parks is the unique opportunity to facilitate richer relationships between private companies and the universities,” said Greg Deason, vice president, Purdue Research Foundation and former president, Association of University Research Parks.
Purdue research parks are a powerful economic force in the state. The West Lafayette, Ind., Research Park alone includes 725 acres and 327,000 square feet of high-tech business incubation facilities. Adding the three other facilities around the state means a total of more than half a million square feet of building space. Any way that you run the numbers, they are a success, with 200 companies claiming 4,100 employees at the four parks and producing $1.3 billion in economic impact to the state of Indiana.