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New addition to Research Park opens

Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation Sylvia Thomas (left) said she wants the future tenants of the building to “continue to bring bright and big innovation to our world.” ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

At the forefront of the Tampa campus stands the new 120,000-square-foot research facility. It was designed to be the future home of research companies in the region.

Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation Sylvia Thomas said at a Thursday morning ribbon-cutting ceremony that the building was constructed to house startups and established companies. Amenities include laboratory facilities, coworking spaces and a rooftop terrace.

“This project was built with tenants’ focus on sustainability, flexibility, community and technology and how we can continue to make an impact in terms of societal change,” she said.

The four-floor building is located at the corner of Spectrum Boulevard and Fowler Avenue. With large glass panels making up most of its walls, people will be able to see researchers working when in passing — which was the intention, according to President Rhea Law.

“People are going to be able to drive by here and actually see that there’s activity going on 24/7,” she said. “People are working on these solutions and our community will be able to be part of it because they’ll be able to see that there are people in there working.”

The rooftop terrace of the research facility was created as a lounge area overlooking Fowler Avenue. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Leading the project has been Director of Research Foundation Operations Allison Madden. She said while no companies are contracted to move in yet, the foundation is working with prospects. Companies could possibly begin occupying the space in about six to nine months, according to Madden.

Research Park is currently home to the Business Partnership Building and the Interdisciplinary Research Building, as well as over 65 companies and student startups that are part of USF Connect. The $42 million project provided a 34% expansion, according to a Thursday press release.

To fund the project, the USF Financing Corporation contributed $27 million and the USF Research Foundation committed to providing $15 million from its own resources, according to Assistant Director of Media Relations Althea Johnson.

USF broke ground on the facility a little over two years ago, and in that time the Research Foundation has recruited varying companies ranging from startups to large pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, according to Tampa Bay Economic Development Council President and CEO Craig Richards.

“Tampa is on a national and international stage like we’ve never seen before,” he said. “Innovators, researchers, entrepreneurs, technology firms, are flocking to Tampa.

“Over the past few years, we’ve recruited innovative life sciences and biotech companies like Axygen and Morphogenesis, which are developing medical breakthroughs right here in our community.”

Companies will be able to build out their desired amount of space on the second and third floors of the building before moving in. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

The second and third floors are currently bare, providing flexibility for future companies to lease their desired square footage and design the space how they’d like. There is no limit to how many companies can occupy the building as it will depend on how much space each will require, according to Madden.

On the top floor is an outdoor terrace with lounging areas. Like the first floor, which will have a cafe and meeting rooms, the rooftop is a collaborative space.

“This building is more than just the steel and glass and concrete that makes it up,” Law said. “It is a place to bring researchers, the best and brightest minds, to come here and be able to collaborate with other distinguished faculty to come up with new solutions to think about the things that we need to be doing in our world to solve problems.”