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Tosa is Home to UW-Milwaukee’s Innovation Park

University broke ground Tuesday on multi-million dollar research park designed to be an economic engine for the city, state and region.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee broke ground today on Innovation Park. The 80-acre parcel of land is just north and east of the Milwaukee County Parks building on Watertown Plank Road. Purchased from Milwaukee County for $13.5 million, it will be the site of academic research, industry, housing and wildlife habitat.

Dignitaries from the state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, city of Wauwatosa and UWM were on hand to talk about what the project will mean in terms of transforming the region and stimulating economic growth — including jobs for the city, state and region. 

The project represents a total of $500 million in capital investment, said Tom Luljak, vice chancellor of the university. “Forty to 50 percent will be on the tax rolls,” he said of the revenue that will be realized upon completion of the project that will include the reconfiguration of the Zoo Interchange.

The Federal Economic Development Administration awarded a $5.4 million grant to the city of Wauwatosa and the UWM Real Estate Foundation to construct Innovation Park’s first building — a 25,000-square-foot business-accelerator facility — in 2012 and to make site improvements starting this summer.  The project has also received a $75 million allocation from the state for the second building, which has no scheduled construction date.

“This project is poised to transform the region,” said UWM Chancellor Michael Lovell. “Innovation Park will greatly increase the research capacity of our university and draw us closer to our many outstanding partners already located nearby. This project adds value to what is happening here. For UWM, this is clearly the place to be.”

Today’s groundbreaking was the result of nearly seven years of planning by the university, the county, the state and the city. Local businessman and philanthropist Michael Cudahy was on hand and recognized as a primary contributor to the project. Cudahy compared the Innovation Park project to the seminal project that resulted in the economic juggernaut of Silicon Valley in California. 

Gov. Scott Walker spoke to the crowd of about 200 people on a hill crest overlooking acres of wildflowers on a sunny, wind-swept morning. “This will be the largest academic cluster in the entire state and one of the largest in the country,” he said of the potential collaboration of efforts with the , Children’s Hospital and Health System, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital, Blood Center, Blood Research Institute, GE Healthcare and . “This is a key economic engine for this region.”

Wauwatosa Mayor Jill Didier was among the featured speakers. “We are lucky to have this project and commend our city’s Common Council who persevered to realize this day,” she said.

The project has many components with a focus on academic research and biomedical engineering. According to the university, Innovation Park will not only offer technology transfer and business incubation services, but incorporate the academic and research enterprise of the university directly into the development of the private sector park. The combination of industry, academia and nonprofit research organizations working in partnership at the same location are expected to attract both companies to the region and leverage the intellectual property from the academic research to spin out new companies.

sashha August 15, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Does anyone know A's to these two Q's -- 1- what is a "business-accelerator facility" - those words do not offer any definition of the type of facility. 2- are there specific plans for "the second building, which has no scheduled construction date"?
Jim Price August 15, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Hi sashha – The "business-accelerator facility" is of that type of development also known as an "incubator," where space is leased or sold to private concerns with business models requiring research and development that fits with UWM's goals – in this case mostly biomedical technology. The second building with the uncertain time frame would actually house university research faculty who would then work with these private concerns and other institutions to "accelerate" their ideas toward patentability and marketability. The university would hope to gain from licensing of technology that it helps to develop.
Ron Kysiak September 27, 2011 at 10:01 PM
As a UWM alum and someone who has started or worked on a number of research parks I see the potential of such a development to grow into a major health science center into the future. However, these developments take many years to reach fruition and they require a great deal of patience, particularly among government leaders whose planning horizons tend to be limited by four year terms. I noticed the lack of the Aurora Health System in the listing of medical entities with possible ties to the new park. If the park is going to succeed, all parties need to be counted and at the table. Such developments need the absolutly largest concentrations of partnerships to become successful. Ron Kysiak Manitowoc, WI
steven spalding April 06, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Ron is right on all accounts. But the conditions for potential success have been well established in that environment. Steven Spalding Point A Consulting Louisville KY

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