Plans for a 32-acre, $750 million research facility adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus were unveiled by organizers from a nonprofit technology association Thursday.
The project’s organizers expect to break ground on the Minnesota Science Park project within 18 months, but the initiative could be a 20-year effort.
A research park is a “way to collaborate with other universities,” said Tony Grindberg, executive director of the Association of University Research Parks, the group behind the project. It is beneficial “because not everyone can be an expert at everything.”
A research park is built for research and commercialization, developing relationships between other universities and creating new research-based companies, according to the AURP website.
AURP board member Jim Currie compared research parks to college residence halls.
Residence halls provide students with more than just a place to sleep — they provide a community. In the same way, research parks are more than just a place to conduct research, he said. They provide a place to communicate with other universities and are “catalyst[s]” for collaboration.
The University is neither a funder nor an organizer of the project, University spokesman Dan Wolter said, though he added that the proposed park “could be a wonderful development for the University.”
“However, it’s still very early in the process, so it’d be premature to speculate on what form the University’s involvement will take,” Wolter said.
The plans looked promising because of their proximity to the University, said outgoing AURP President Brian Darmondy.
“That will create good synergy between the University researchers and the companies that would be set up in the adjacent park area,” he said.
Kathleen Dockter, who works with existing research at the University, said the park would help researchers from other universities look at the facilities and resources at the University.
Creating a research park near the University is “creating a community of innovation,” Darmondy said.
AURP member Austin Beggs said that there are more than 600 research parks around the world and that this number has more than doubled in the past 14 years.
“[I’m] going to live to be 100 with the research going on at the U,” said AURP member Paul Steffes.
-Yasin Mohamud contributed to this report.
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