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Program # of Grants EDA Funds
Public Works 1 $750,000
Planning 7 $672,000
Total 8 $1,422,000

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is rapidly growing its animal health, renewable fuels, plant science and food processing programs. Yet, in order for the state and the university to become globally competitive in these fields, it needed to move university-based research to a more formal commercialization process. In response, UNL and its partners — Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Invest Nebraska — purchased a 250-acre parcel of land next to the campus to create the Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC).

A major part of the NIC is the Biotech Connector program. The purpose of this program is to provide emerging biotechnology innovators and firms with access to affordable research laboratory space and instrumentation, mentoring in innovation and entrepreneurism, and a suite of educational outreach activities designed to engage a diverse, highly skilled workforce in the region.

In 2015, EDA invested $750,000 to fund the construction and acquisition of equipment for a wet research laboratory to support NIC’s Biotech Connecter program. The project will benefit start-ups and mid-sized bio-technology/bio-science firms, as well as build upon the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives by offering entrepreneurial skills to students in the Lincoln public schools, the Southeast Community College, and the University of Nebraska system. When completed, the wet research labs will be a hub for microbusiness incubation, business acceleration, and supportive business services that will create jobs and attract private investment to the region. Based on the economic impact assessment, over a nine-year period, the program is expected to serve eight start-up biotechnology companies per year, receive follow on capital of $48 million, create 400 jobs and have a $74 million economic impact on Nebraska’s economy.

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