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Monday, May 27, 2024

UF will construct a new life-science center by the year 2010 to help make research more marketable, UF President Bernie Machen announced at a Friday meeting of UF's Board of Trustees.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., a California-based science-property contractor, plans to build two buildings - a laboratory and office space that would total about 160,000 square feet - on UF's campus, a news release stated.

The first part of the project, a nearly 80,000-square-foot laboratory, will be built at the corner of Archer Road and Gale Lemerand Drive, the release stated.

UF's project, known as The Innovation Center, will be the first small-town facility Alexandria has ever built, Machen said.

The land belongs to UF, said Steve Orlando, UF spokesman. Alexandria will lease the land from UF to build the buildings and allow developing businesses to lease space there.

Alexandria will provide some capital for startup costs, and it will make money from rent paid by researchers and return on its research investments, Orlando said.

The company hasn't provided any estimates about the cost of the project, he said.

Machen said he would appeal to the Florida Legislature for more financial support, and if that doesn't work out, UF will dip into other sources, such as royalty revenue.

Alexandria owns and operates about 12 million square feet of office or laboratory properties across the nation, and it is developing about seven million more square feet of laboratory space, the release stated.

"We were attracted to University of Florida because of its proven success and outstanding track record of moving technology from the laboratory to the marketplace," said Joel S. Marcus, chief executive officer of Alexandria, in the release.

UF already has a similar technology center in Gainesville, called the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, which has been named one of the nation's best, the release stated.

Many companies have outgrown UF's Sid Martin facility.

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"By partnering with Alexandria, the university can offer our own spin-off companies and other premier laboratory and office space close to our most valuable campus resources - faculty and graduate students," said Win Phillips, UF's vice president for research in the release.

In 2006-2007, UF earned more than ,538 million in research awards, including ,260 million in the life sciences.

"I believe this is a really good buy," Machen said in the meeting.

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