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Rosalind Franklin University Breaks Ground on Innovation and Research Park
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Approves Expansion of Enterprise Zone
Construction began April 2, 2018, on Rosalind Franklin University’s new Innovation and Research Park, where academic and industry scientists and entrepreneurs will work together to translate the university’s biomedical research into new treatments for disease.
The university held a ceremonial groundbreaking in the fall of 2017 for the four-story, 100,000 square-foot addition to its campus in North Chicago, a suburb of the Chicago metropolitan area, located in Lake County, home to the largest concentration of bioscience companies in the Midwest. The building will feature state-of-the-art laboratories, meeting and office space for faculty and commercial startups and national and international biotech and healthcare firms.
“The Innovation and Research Park is evidence of our commitment to improving wellness through biomedical advances and an ever-deeper understanding of the human body and the disease processes that do it harm,” said President and CEO Dr. K. Michael Welch.
The project will be aided through an array of financial incentives under the Waukegan-North Chicago Enterprise Zone, a state program aimed at stimulating economic growth and community revitalization. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently approved an application by North Chicago requesting a boundary expansion to include the university.
“We are encouraged by the strong and enthusiastic support we’ve received from our local, state and federal elected officials and industry leaders,” said Executive Vice President of Research Ronald Kaplan, PhD. “The enterprise zone will help us attract investment and cutting-edge collaborations with industry to accelerate the translation of our discoveries to patient treatment. That, in turn, will add quality jobs for our local communities and improve the health of both individuals and populations.”
North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. said the city and RFU maintain a strong and productive partnership.
"Our support for the expansion of our enterprise zone demonstrates our commitment to the university, its scientific research and the economic growth and development of our community,” Mr. Rockingham said.
Lake County Partners has estimated that the first building of what could be a multiphase development will help generate an estimated 500 direct and related jobs and an annual economic development impact on Lake County and the surrounding region of $117 million. It is expected that more than 100 university researchers will move into the new building with a total capacity for 175. Approximately 50 percent of the investigators will work in the new Brain Science Institute and its three disease-focused research centers. The structure will also include three centers focused on genetic diseases, cancer cell biology and proteomics and molecular therapeutics. Industry collaborators will work in dedicated space on each floor of the building.
The university has hired the Chicago-based brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield to assist in attracting international and national bioscience companies to co-locate in the new science park.
“Cushman & Wakefield has expertise in the bioscience industry and passion for the project,” said John Nylen, RFU’s executive vice president of finance and administration. “We look forward to working with them to find tenants who share our passion for research and innovation.”
The Innovation and Research Park combines “stellar research and industry,” said Jonathan Metz, Cushman & Wakefield managing director.
“The new science park will draw even more talent and investment to the burgeoning bioscience community in metropolitan Chicago and southern Wisconsin,” he said.
Atlanta-based developer, The University Finance Foundation (TUFF) working with Gateway Development, late last year completed the $53 million financing for the expansion. Completion is expected by summer 2019.