Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, November 15, 2010

NCRC executive director updates community about facility’s progress

My first three months as executive director of the North Campus Research Complex have been marked by a sense of a new beginning, of renewal, and of opportunity to strategically and thoughtfully build upon the excellent work that commenced here just over a year ago.

  David Canter
Click here to read the 2010 NCRC annual report.

What attracted me to this position was the vision and entrepreneurial spirit that it will take to create a novel research space at U-M, especially since there is not an existing model from which to draw. I enjoy the process of building something from the ground up, and our work at NCRC is no different than that of a startup company.

I am delighted to update you on the latest developments at NCRC.

Our strategy for growth involves pursuing parallel paths. We are initiating a series of faculty-based occupancy and growth projects, engaging with private companies, and pursuing public-private partnerships with corporations and the government. We have established a lean and mission-driven team focused on serving our primary “customers” — research and administration groups, private companies and public-private partnerships.

This fall, we welcomed the Business Engagement Center and the Office of Tech Transfer to their new home at NCRC, in addition to several of the health services research groups. A business accelerator is in the planning stages, in partnership with the Michigan Venture Center, the business formation arm of the Office of Tech Transfer. Along with BoroPharm, our first private partner on site, this is part of our strategy to create robust public-private partnerships, thereby driving economic wealth-creation for the region and the state.

In 2010, we gathered much thought and input from faculty and staff across campus. Several studies on potential building uses have been conducted, eight buildings have been commissioned, and close to 400 people have moved to the NCRC. We are continuing to commission more buildings to enable wet lab research operations.

Eventually, we expect to have about 3,000 faculty, staff and company employees working on this campus, but that will take a few more years. However, merely filling up the available space is not our goal. NCRC stands for collaboration. To that end, we are bringing researchers together to collectively tackle questions that they may not take on by themselves. We are working to move the first set of laboratory researchers on site. This includes a translational oncology program, a cardiovascular research cluster, a health technologies program and an interdisciplinary energy hub, in addition to groups from health services research, biointerfaces, an imaging hub and scientific CORES.

NCRC is more than expansion space. It is a universitywide asset, with a mission to create a complex that fosters interdisciplinary research within and outside its walls. We are nurturing the process of translating scientific discoveries into real-life applications, taking the important steps beyond basic discovery in human health, energy solutions and diagnostic aids. We are seeking the right groups who will fulfill the vision of innovative research that could bring change to our world.

NCRC is developing quietly, but most certainly steadily. It is an exciting phase of development at NCRC. I invite you to take a look at our annual report to get a more detailed idea about all that is happening on our campus. In early spring, I look forward to providing another update to the campus community about our progress.