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University announces innovative expansion plan for Discovery Ridge Research Park

Officials say architecturally novel facility could help transform economy in mid-Missouri

COLUMBIA, Mo.-- University of Missouri System officials today announced innovative plans for a dramatic expansion of its Discovery Ridge Research Park that features a towering, glass-encased architectural centerpiece—at no expense to the university.

In fact, tenants who move into the 80,000-square-foot building will likely generate important new revenues for the university and create more opportunities for university researchers to collaborate with investors and firms to move innovation to the marketplace.

“This expanded research park has the potential to transform mid-Missouri’s economy with hundreds of new jobs and all of the local infrastructure those new jobs would induce—from housing and transportation to retail and restaurants,” said Mike Nichols, vice president of research and economic development at the University of Missouri System.

“Based on early responses to the developer we’ve selected for this expansion, this facility is poised to attract high-tech businesses—potentially from around the world—to this region,” Nichols added.  “We are pleased to have CarrBaierCrandall and world-renowned real estate firm CB Richard Ellis to lead global marketing efforts for this cutting-edge facility.”

The Board of Curators recently approved the terms of this development, and agreed the CarrBaierCrandall (CBC) Real Estate Group can now move forward with regulatory approvals and leasing negotiations. The 55-year ground lease agreement states that CBC will be completely responsible for project financing, construction and management of the three-phase development while paying ground rent to the University.

Columbia, located in the center of what some have begun to call the “Midwest Bio-Innovation Belt,” was a desirable location to CBC for several reasons. 

“Columbia is dead center in the country, and I believe we can take advantage of our geography and import companies from across the country. The city also has a low cost of living and a highly educated workforce, which is very attractive,” said Rick Baier of CBC. “We think Columbia is ripe for this kind of development.”

Nichols underscored that the expanding research park is just one piece of the university’s strategic economic development program, which includes financial incentives to faculty, entrepreneurs and businesses to collaborate more to commercialize innovative research, as well as a new policy that allows students to own the intellectual property rights to their innovations.

 “We are excited to continue the development of Discovery Ridge with such a high-quality group of partners,” said Greg Williams, director of research parks for the University of Missouri System.   “Our statewide network of 10 research parks and incubators, and the quality of research undertaken by our faculty, continue to be an important draw for successful companies looking to grow and prosper in quality, competitively priced locations.”

Williams noted two recent examples of companies relocating to Missouri to work with the University of Missouri, including: SoyLabs, the Mexico Plant Science Center tenant that recently located from California to be closer to University of Missouri soybean research; and PetScreen, which based its North American headquarters in the internationally recognized MU Life Science Incubator at Monsanto Place.

“We’ve reviewed what the University of Missouri has done around the state, and we’ve seen what other universities have been able to accomplish with their initiatives in the life sciences and high tech area,” said Rick Baier of CBC. “I think this project is visionary, and we’re excited to bring this unique development to Columbia.”

The multi-tenant building will include lab and office space for businesses focusing on human health, veterinary medicine, nutrition, bioengineering, biology, environmental sciences and engineering.  Tenants also will have the unique opportunity to work with MU scientists nearby at the nation’s highest-powered university research reactor, which is experiencing major growth in its production of high-quality radiopharmaceuticals distributed worldwide.

When the building is fully leased, developer CBC Real Estate Group plans to develop two additional buildings of equal or similar size.

Reviewed 2011-06-27