Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFU) began construction on its new Innovation and Research Park. The four-story, 100,000 square-foot addition to its campus in North Chicago, Illinois, will feature state-of-the-art laboratories as well as conferencing and office space for faculty, commercial startups, and national and international healthcare and life science companies.
Lake County, where RFU is located, is home to the largest concentration of bioscience companies in the Midwest. The university hired Chicago-based Cushman & Wakefield as exclusive leasing agent to attract international and national bioscience companies to co-locate in the new science park.
“Cushman & Wakefield has an extensive track record advising clients on large leasing projects in North Suburban Chicago. The Innovation and Research Park will provide the bioscience industry with proximate access to RFU’s renowned research programs,” said Jonathan Metzl, managing director, Cushman & Wakefield. “It will be the premier complex for the science community to attract the experienced labor pool in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.”
Academic and industry scientists and entrepreneurs will work together at the Innovation and Research Park to translate the university’s biomedical research into new treatments for disease.“The Innovation and Research Park is evidence of our commitment to improving wellness through biomedical advances and an ever-deeper understanding of the human body and the disease processes that do it harm,” said RFU executive vice president of research Ronald Kaplan.
Lake County Partners has estimated that the first building of what could be a multiphase development, will generate an estimated 500 direct and related jobs and an annual economic development impact on Lake County and surrounding region of $117 million. It is expected that more than 100 university researchers will move into the new building with a capacity for 175. Approximately 50 percent of the investigators will work in the new Brain Science Institute and its three disease-focused research centers, in addition to three more centers focused on genetic diseases, cancer cell biology and proteomics and molecular therapeutics. Industry collaborators will work in dedicated space on each floor of the building.
The project will be aided through an array of financial incentives under the North Chicago/Waukegan Enterprise Zone, a state program aimed at stimulating economic growth and community revitalization. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently approved an application requesting an expansion of their zone to include the university.
“We are encouraged by the strong and enthusiastic support we’ve received from our local, state, and federal elected officials and industry leaders,” Kaplan said. “The enterprise zone will help us attract investment, cutting-edge healthcare companies, and collaborations with industry to accelerate the translation of our discoveries to patient treatment. That, in turn, will add quality jobs for our local communities and improve the health of both individuals and populations.”
Atlanta-based developer, The University Finance Foundation, worked with Gateway Development late last year to complete the $53 million financing for the expansion. Completion is expected by summer 2019.