Developers showcase plans for Innovation Campus

Oct 29th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, October 29, 2009

Innovation Campus

The Nebraska Innovation Campus would be governed by a new Innovation Campus Development Corp. made up of private business and university representatives under a proposed structural model presented to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Oct. 23.

Campus consultants Mary Jukuri of SmithGroup/JJR and Jay Noddle of Noddle Cos., together with university planners, outlined progress, vision and recommendations, and preliminary directions at this stage of planning for Nebraska Innovation Campus, a private-public research and development project planned for the former Nebraska State Fairgrounds.

A board of directors appointed by the UNL chancellor in consultation with the University of Nebraska president would include eight members: four from the private sector and three university representatives, and a non-voting presence of a new vice chancellor for innovation. They would govern the Nebraska Innovation Campus, according to the consultants’ recommendation at the Board of Regents meeting.

A Nebraska Innovation Campus advisory board would be established to advise the board of directors. The vice chancellor for innovation would oversee the development and operation of Innovation Campus and serve as CEO of the Innovation Campus Development Corp. The new vice chancellor would be responsible for coordinating and aligning activities, programs and initiatives for the development and marketing of the campus, and enhance innovation and commercialization opportunities partnering with NU Tech Ventures, the UNL technology development corporation. The proposed public-private governance model was based on research of existing governance structures at successful innovation campuses.

Innovation Campus
An architectural vision of a what an Innovation Campus cafe area and plaza could look like.

The Nebraska Innovation Campus proposal launched Nov. 17, 2007, in response to the possible availability of State Fair Park. The Nebraska Innovation Campus concept is a vision for a site to expand university research and build private sector partnerships for the long-term economic benefit of all Nebraskans. With a modern economy based on innovation, many private-sector companies involved in agriculture, technology and other fields desire locations adjacent to or on a university campus. The concept plan includes a mix of existing and new construction to incorporate public and private research.

The consultants presented new illustrative views and plans, and recommended site guidelines and architectural guidelines for the proposed campus. They also proposed recommended sustainable principles for Innovation Campus to include cutting edge “green” plans and designs.

Among the ideas presented to the Board of Regents:

• Sustainable principles: The development will adopt environmentally sensitive land use practices; plan for innovative, sustainable buildings and landscapes; ensure a range of transportation options; and move toward a net-zero energy and carbon-neutral campus. Ideas presented included capturing and treating storm water and creating habitat; creating energy-efficient, healthy buildings and innovative landscapes; making transit convenient and pedestrians and bicycles a priority; and innovating with renewable energies on site and reduce carbon emissions during the energy production.

Innovation Campus
Pictured is how an Innovation Campus intersection could look like. Innovation Campus planners presented design concepts and ideas to the NU Board of Regents on Oct. 23. Those plans are available at

Sustainable plans also call for “Urban rain garden” structures that create a “green street” on the proposed Innovation Avenue. The urban rain gardens run alongside the street and carry water to landscaping and serve as storm runoff and running water feature.

Two design options: The guidelines for circulation around the campus show a preliminary road network that will accommodate development, main streets, “green streets” or offset medians; and encouraging the continued improvement of Salt Creek Roadway.

The master plans proposed are 2 million gross square feet of building space when fully built.

Technology commercialization, the consultants said, is a “big idea,” and incubation and commercialization are core functions that can serve as a focal point for programs that encourage business start-ups, entrepreneurship, technology working groups, core research facilities and a business development center that would coordinate with UNL’s technology transfer office.

The consultants and campus planners have until Dec. 1 to complete the fact-gathering and initial planning phase, and will report their findings and recommendations to the Nebraska Legislature on that date. Among ideas for the first tenants or buildings at the site is the proposed Agricultural Research Service building, and a companion UNL research building.

— University Communications

Watch a slide show of the presentation to the NU Board of Regents at

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