TAMPA — The University of South Florida launched construction this week on the first new building at the USF Research Park since 2005.
The $42 million facility will bring together researchers, patent officers, entrepreneurs, investors and companies to enhance the commercialization of technology and nurture innovation throughout the Tampa Bay area. USF administrators have targeted fall 2021 for its opening.
“Our aim is for great ideas and new technologies to move from the lab to the market where they can benefit the most people," USF senior vice president for research, innovation and knowledge enterprise Paul Sanberg said.
At three stories and 120,000 square feet, it will house laboratories, office and meeting space for researchers, inventors, established companies and startups, plus retail and dining. Financing for the project consists of $27 million in debt and a $15 million equity contribution from the USF Research Foundation.
The 112-acre USF Research Park is home to more than 65 resident and affiliate companies, more than half of them focusing on life sciences and nearly half working to commercialize technologies developed by USF researchers. A USF student incubator at the research park includes dozens more startups led by students.
USF’s innovation enterprise initiatives directly employ an estimated 1,992 people and are likely to grow with the creation, announced last October, of a joint USF-Jabil innovation institute that will enlist USF faculty and students in the pursuit of research that aligns with Jabil’s global manufacturing services business. Jabil established a physical presence at one of research park’s existing buildings in January.
The new building will increase the amount of development in the park by more than a third, to nearly 470,000 square feet. It also will rise on one of USF’s most visible spots, at the northeast corner of Spectrum Boulevard and Fowler Avenue, a few hundred feet west of the main gateway into the university.
It is meant to be noticed, USF president Steven Currall said, with large windows that at night will give passers-by on Fowler a look at what’s going on inside.
“It’s no accident that the facade of this building is going to be a window into the energy that’s going on inside,” he said. “We actually want the people driving by to see the exciting intellectual work that’s going on inside this campus.”