BOT wants USF more immersed in Tampa technology

Partnerships and more business will come to USF if the Board of Trustees has its way.

At a research and scholarship workgroup meeting Thursday, Carl Carlucci, executive vice president for budgets, human research and information technology, discussed plans for USF to expand its infrastructure and buy more land.

Carlucci said a Center of Excellence for Bioengineering and Life Sciences, which will eventually expand into a technology park, could produce economic benefits for the Tampa Bay area.

University administrators want to add the building to the Tampa Bay Research and Development Park area located beside the Embassy Suites Hotel on Fowler Avenue.

The area will be dedicated to research and science studies, while USF will attempt to buy 87 acres of land across the street, Carlucci said.

It is possible that USF could receive up to five awards from the state Legislature in March if the plan for the life sciences building is approved. Carlucci said the Legislature has $30 million to award to various universities that are preparing to develop more technology facilities on campus.

“The focus is all about science, but when we pitch it, it will be about why science can improve the region,” Carlucci said. “Various organizations (in Tampa) are identified by bioengineering and life sciences as one of the most important industries in the region.”

Bruce Lindsey, professor of physiology and interim vice president of research, said Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center already have partnerships with USF that will give the university an advantage to be awarded funds for the project in March.

Companies in Tampa, Lindsey added, would be next to numerous laboratories, which will be housed in the life science building.

Phillip J. Marty, dean for the College of Public Health, proposed that a building for bioterrorism study be added to the technology park. Marty said it would house animal facilities to run tests on mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits.

But, if the BOT approves the addition, it would then have to be awarded a grant before the Legislature would contribute any money, Carlucci said.

If the university is able to purchase the land across Fowler Avenue, Carlucci said it is possible that USF and Tampa General Hospital could work on research projects together.

Carlucci said he is not sure how much the land will cost until he begins negotiating for a price.

Because of the new Board of Governors, which will oversee university BOTs, universities will now be able to buy their own land, Carlucci said.

An investment in emerging technology, Carlucci said, will benefit the entire state by using about $2 million to train faculty and increase recruitment.

If USF purchases the land, Carlucci said it would cost about $2 million to build a bridge over Fowler Avenue so faculty can access the research facilities.