By Robert Kalesse
Special to Delaware Business Times
As the calendar turns the page on a new year, goals and resolutions for 2016 dominate personal and professional to-do lists. At the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology & Advanced Research (STAR) Campus, 2016 looks to be filled with plenty of development and achievement, continuing through the spring.
Alan Brangman, UD’s vice president for facilities, real estate and auxiliary services, is excited about the collaborative nature of the STAR Campus, where the colleges of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Engineering, and Health Sciences will work on joint projects important to their individual missions.
“We’re queuing up this ‘collaboratorium,’ wherein each college will have office and research space to work on different projects together,” Brangman said. “The space, however, is not primarily academic, but rather more focused on economic development, featuring businesses that have a connection with the university.”
SevOne, a network management and monitoring company, is one such business with a direct connection to UD. Co-founders Vess and Tanya Bakalov both graduated from the university and started the rapidly growing company in 2005. They signed a 12-year lease in October and have since moved more than half their 500 employees into the new Innovation Headquarters on campus.
“We maintain very close ties with the university and take great pride in tapping into the innovative talent of other UD graduates,” Vess Bakalov said. “In fact, SevOne draws up to 70 percent of its interns from UD, many of whom go on to take full-time positions with the company.”
With companies like SevOne and Bloom Energy taking up residence at the STAR Campus, the hope is that other companies, both Delaware-based and beyond, will follow suit. Mike Bowman, president of the Delaware Technology Park, hopes the entire project can work as a feeder system to bring more companies to STAR.
“As a 501c nonprofit, the Delaware Technology Park has helped to build more than 100 companies from scratch over the years, predominantly in areas like life sciences and IT,” Bowman said. “We are an independent body from that of UD, but the whole point of what we’re doing is to act as a feeder for larger players on the STAR Campus.”
Currently, all five buildings that make up the Delaware Technology Park, located on Wyoming Road across the UD campus, are filled with more than 1,000 researchers, scientists and employees. In order to keep the model growing, according to Bowman, the DTP will now spill over onto the STAR Campus in early April.
“We have pledges from seven different companies that are under current lease negotiations to move into a 12,000-square-foot facility in April,” Bowman said. “The incubator space that will house these companies includes mostly wet labs for research and analysis, as well as conference rooms.”
Though Bowman could not reveal the seven companies, he did say that each of them has Delaware ties, are of great character in the business community, possess tremendous science and growth potential, and focus mainly on life science materials.
“One is a premier drug discovery company, another is a material company spinning out of the university, and another company uses laser technology for therapeutic purposes on humans and animals,” Bowman said. “They are all university spin-outs, or intellectual properties of the university looking to grow into something bigger.”
The 12,000 square feet of space the new companies will inhabit is currently under construction by Delle Donne & Associates, who designed the building itself. Ernest Delle Donne, president and chairman of Delle Donne & Associates, said he foresees the STAR Campus project being an economic development engine.
Delle Donne & Associates won building rights on the STAR Campus project in 2012, when the university selected them over 14 other developers to help build on 18 acres of land over the first five years. Delle Donne said that university officials make all final decisions on every single phase of the building process.
“All details for the project are first discussed with Alan Brangman and the trustees, and unless they approve the plan, no shovels go in the ground,” Delle Donne said. “We are finished with Phase 2 of the project, and will hope to break ground on Phase 3 this spring, once our architects meet with UD officials.”
Phase 3 will be separated into two parts, according to Delle Donne: 3A will include a southern located 10-story glass building for the continued expansion of SevOne, while 3B might include four to five stories for tenants from the health-care industry, as well as a fitness center and residential units.
All construction at STAR Campus, according to Brangman, is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, and will eventually include a rail station, pending approval from Amtrak, SEPTA, DelDOT, and the Wilmington Area Planning Council, and the University of Delaware.
“We are situated in a great area along train lines, just a mile from Interstate 95, and a short ride to major cities and airports,” Brangman said. “When we are finished, STAR Campus will feature myriad research opportunities for students and professionals, and serve as a critical mass for economic development.”