The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a research powerhouse that also knows how to turn its R into D, bringing technology to market, jobs to Wisconsin, and steady income back to the university through licensing agreements.
One way that UWM intellectual capital gets to market is via the highly-successful Madison University Research Park, which has nearly reached capacity and has met or exceeded all of its original goals. Founded in 1983, the park started out as an experimental farm; it now houses 120 companies in 37 buildings, employs 3500-4000 people, and has an annual payroll of almost $250 million.
Perhaps the most important of these 37 buildings is the MGE Innovation Center, which exists to incubate start-ups that follow from advances in university research. When companies outgrow their start-up offices, there is then an Accelerator they can move into to continue their supported growth. Ultimately they may have their own building on the Park's 260 acres. That is, if they can find a space. The Research Park is so popular that it has attracted many businesses that do not have roots in UWM research. The Park is not only self-supporting but returns income to the university and state.
The need for space and facilities to continue growth has led to Phase Two of the University Research Park, which will:
- Add 54 building sites on 270 additional acres
- Increase tenant count to over 200
- Add 10,000-15,000 employees
In addition to more real estate for growing companies, the Research Park's growth includes two new incubator facilities:
(All images courtesy of University Research Park)
The Metro Innovation Center lives in 6,000 square feet of renovated machine shop in Madison's vibrant downtown area. It houses 10 suites and a conference room and was designed to foster "computational and computer-intensive" startups, which it has done since it opened in 2009.
The MIC exemplifies two important components of modern research park development: re-use of existing/historic structures and linkage to a larger metropolitan community and its culture. The new research park may even be a mini-city with employee housing and recreational facilities, like North Carolina State's Centennial Campus.
Both Madison's URP and North Carolina's offer contemporary ways of reimagining the relationship between business and academia. Milwaukee has just purchased real estate for its own university research park and will be looking towards Madison and other successful "third-generation" university-business park developments for models of success.
If you are a supplier of research equipment and would like to meet and network with others in the Madison life science research community, plan on attending one or both of the upcoming Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. tradeshow events in Madison this September 7-8, 2011:Madison University Research Park FrontLine™ Event, September 7, 2011
Madison BioResearch Product Faire™ Event on the UWM Campus, September 8, 2011
Or see the 2011 National Life Science tradeshow schedule for participation in other active life science markets