COLUMBIA — The UM System plans to expand its Discovery Ridge Research Park with a new campus of buildings to attract high-tech businesses to southeast Columbia.
The expansion’s first phase will consist of an 80,000-square-foot multitenant building for offices, labs and possibly classrooms.
A developer will be selected in late January or early February to complete the project, said Greg Williams, director of University of Missouri Research Parks.
The university is now in the process of seeking qualified applicants based on background, experience and financial condition.
“We will lease the ground to the developer who will then construct, own and manage the facility,” Williams said. “There will be close scrutiny by the university relative to the design of the building and eligible tenants.”
*He said the cost of the expansion will be estimated when the developer is selected. The developer will assume all financial risk in constructing the building and will lease the space. There will be no university investment, Williams said.
But to qualify as tenants, businesses must have a close affiliation or business relationship with the university. They could also provide laboratory research opportunities in conjunction with MU.
“We are in regular communication with companies who have expressed interest in locating to Discovery Ridge,” Williams said.
He said a number of colleges and schools at MU are conducting world-class research that would be perfect for the research park. Tenants of the MU Incubator at Monsanto Place include young companies preparing to go to the market who will hopefully become tenants in the future, he said.
Through collaboration with economic development groups such as REDI, the Missouri Partnership and Missouri CORE, the research park can get the word out through trade shows, conferences and real estate brokers.
“Our recruitment efforts are wide-ranging and all-inclusive,” Williams said.
The goal is to have the new building completed in early 2012. Additional buildings may be constructed at the same time or after the first project.
Plans are to eventually expand the research park to 550 acres.
"The purpose is to take technology from the classroom or lab to commercialization," Williams said. "Commercialization results in good quality jobs and investment in the community."
Any new projects will join the Research Animal Diagnostic Laboratory and Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories, which opened in 2008 to contract services to pharmaceutical and chemical industries.