In making the announcement, University President David M. Dooley noted that “continuing to enhance the University’s research agenda, as well as expanding our economic development partnerships, makes such a park a focus for us. URI’s grants and research portfolio exceeded $105 million last year. We have become a major player in economic development throughout our state and our region. At the same time, combining our faculty, staff, and student capabilities with private business projects to enhance the quality of life gets at the core of our mission. University based research and technology parks across America have proven to be very successful in these and other ways.”
URI Vice President for Research and Economic Development Peter Alfonso added that “We are pleased to be working with such a respected firm as Scheer Partners as we focus on bringing a park to Rhode Island’s flagship university.”
Several years ago, URI officials discussed the idea of this research and technology park, but postponed a final decision in light of the economic downturn. Now, the University is revisiting the concept. Scheer Partners Founder and President Robert Scheer is leading the team that will spearhead this consulting project. Currently, Scheer Partners is conducting a financial analysis and market research, compiling a list of companies to target for tenancy in the park. It is also working with economic development officials to secure funding at the state and local levels.
As part of their assignment, Scheer Partners has engaged Gaudreau & Associates, Inc. to develop plans for a University of Rhode Island park, which would initially include a 50,000-square-foot building and in total encompass between 200,000 and 300,000 square feet of space on the north part of the URI campus.
In recent years, the State of Rhode Island has provided the University nearly $200 million to create its own health sciences “district” in the north part of campus. This includes the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, and a modern, state-of-the art facility for the College of Pharmacy. Rhode Islanders also recently approved a new Center for Chemical and Forensic Sciences to be located in the same area.
Science, engineering and technology companies in need of 2,500 to 20,000 square feet of space, and perhaps seeking an affiliation with the university, would make a good fit for this research and technology park, whether they are looking to relocate their operations altogether or establish an additional presence. Start-up companies formed through technology-transfer efforts at URI, as well as educational and government institutions looking to partner with the University, also would make strong tenants.
This research and technology park will focus on securing companies that do business in Rhode Island and throughout the Northeast corridor. One key selling point, beyond the obvious ties to the URI research community, is that the park would provide cost-effective real estate options to New York or the Boston metropolitan region, where laboratory rental rates can reach more than $60 a square foot.
At the same time, the URI research and technology park will have proximity to major Northeast cities, highways and a future railway system. What’s more, besides potential partnerships with the University, companies residing in this research and technology park will have access to numerous other biotech, health care and pharmaceutical firms that are based — or have large operations — in Rhode Island, such as Amgen, CVS, Lifespan Healthcare and Rite Aid.
URI officials believe there is a great opportunity to develop science, engineering, and technology clusters around this research and technology park. For example, employment in the state’s health care and life sciences community is projected to triple by 2014, according to the Milken Institute.
Companies taking space in the research and technology park will have the ability to work hand-in-hand with a University that is committed to the growth of its engineering and life sciences academic programs — and also excels in research. The new pharmacy building and the planned Center for Chemical and Forensic Science will allow for enhanced student enrollment and faculty research in those disciplines. And, engineering has historically been one of URI’s premier programs.
Another potential attraction to tenants is state funding and tax-credit programs, from sources such as the Industrial-Recreational Building Authority, the Job Creation Guaranty Program, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., and the Slater Technology Fund. These are geared to science, engineering, and technology companies that create high-paying jobs.
University officials note that the expansion of their efforts in life sciences and engineering will lead to a higher level of technology transfer. The proposed research and technology park is also expected to include incubator space to support start-up, faculty-created businesses.
About the University of Rhode Island
At the University of Rhode Island you’ll find some of today’s leading innovators, discoverers, and creative problem solvers. The University is known regionally and worldwide for its big ideas and pioneering research in such areas as air, water, and ground pollution; biotechnology and life sciences; engineering, marine sciences, forensic sciences, pharmaceuticals, the behavioral sciences, and public health promotion. Unique interdisciplinary courses provide its 13,000 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate students with cutting-edge experiences. Collaborations across the institution afford students and faculty opportunities to engage in real-life problem-solving initiatives with like-minded partners who can help bring them to life. This past year, the University received more than $105 million in federal and private funding that supports the highest levels of research in dozens of disciplines. Beautiful, tree-lined, and quiet, URI is quintessential New England. Six miles from Rhode Island’s coastal beaches, the main campus in rural Kingston is conveniently located between Boston and New York.
About Scheer Partners
Founded in 1991, Scheer Partners is a full-service commercial real estate firm headquartered in Rockville, MD. With a focus on the greater Washington and Baltimore regions, Scheer Partners’ fully integrated services include tenant and landlord representation; strategic planning consulting; facilities and construction management; and investment sales, acquisitions and development. While the firm works with clients across all industry types, Scheer Partners is the recognized leader serving the health care market, with more than 500 successful projects in this sector. Scheer Partners is the operations manager for Montgomery County’s technology incubator program, which has more than 160 tenants, and is co-manager of the Greater Washington Life Sciences Fund. The company’s Web site is www.scheerpartners.com.