Across from the University of Delaware’s South Campus in Newark, Del., sits a 272-acre parcel of land that is getting a new lease on life. While once the Newark Chrysler Assembly Plant, this site is now known as UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.
Since acquiring the site in November 2009, the University of Delaware has made key investments and built strategic partnerships to ensure the STAR Campus is an investment in the future for innovation, research and academics alike.
Andy Lubin, UD director of real estate, explains the University’s goal is to align itself with partners that “have the right combination of real estate, design, development, construction and financing expertise and experience.”
With that in mind, the University of Delaware entered into a strategic partnership in spring of 2012 with Delle Donne and Associates Inc. and Bancroft Construction Company for phase one of the STAR Campus, which focuses on developing the existing former Chrysler administrative building along South College Avenue and high bay space, positioned on approximately 15 acres of land. Construction began this past summer, and by the end of 2013, this space will be remodeled and expanded from 170,000 square feet to 300,000 square feet and will house tenants from the health and life sciences.
“Our vision is to create an innovative campus where you can live, work and be healthy,” says Kathleen Matt, dean of the UD College of Health Sciences and executive director of the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance. Matt’s vision for STAR includes commercial organizations that foster health care start-ups and attract entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as building a strong health care workforce, which begins with her college.
Tenants will include both internal and external entities, among them the University’s College of Health Sciences, Department of Physical Therapy, Nurse Managed Health Center, Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, BADER Consortium, Delaware Health Sciences Alliance, along with clinics and laboratories, biomedical and biotechnology companies, fitness facilities, as well as health care incubators, start-ups and nonprofits.
“These tenants hit a broad spectrum of all different types of health components and how they all work together with health and wellness,” Matt says.
While the initial focus is on health sciences, the University is building all aspects of its “3+1” strategy, which includes health and life sciences, energy and the environment, and national security and defense–in addition to enabling transportation infrastructure.
“We’re building strategic partnerships that will provide research and innovation opportunities at the STAR Campus for faculty, students and the community,” says Scott Douglass, UD executive vice president and University treasurer.
David Weir, director of the Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, says one such example of a partnership and the type of company UD wants on the site is eV2g, a joint venture with NRG and the University to build electric cars. While still in its early stages, more than a dozen charging stations were installed on the site in the fall of 2012, which is part of an experimental program as it relates to UD’s patented vehicle to grid technology.
Weir highlights other opportunities due to the University’s articulation agreements and the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground. “We’d likely create a cyber-security program with classified facilities to do work outside of the campus,” says Weir. “The University has strategic partnerships that impact economic development from research to health sciences to the Army and it’s all part of what’s adding to the STAR Campus.”
However, infrastructure is necessary to partner with those organizations outside of the immediate area. According to Lubin, infrastructure–the “plus one” component of the University’s strategy for the STAR Campus–is essential, which is why Lubin says it was so critical that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $10 million TIGER IV grant this past summer to the Newark Regional Transportation Center Station Improvement Project, which will be located on the STAR Campus.
“This TIGER IV grant for the new station serves as a catalyst for the University’s infrastructure development of the STAR Campus,” says Lubin. “All of a sudden, it puts us in the middle of a commuter rail scenario rather than at the end of one, which changes the dynamics of this substantially.”
The funds will expand the Newark Train Station into a multi-modal hub while improving the operations in the adjoining freight yard, but the University hopes the commuter rail will attract those who may be in Aberdeen or Philadelphia but want to take advantage of the academic research at UD’s campus.
To learn more about the STAR Campus, visit www.udel.edu/STAR.