UNR: University amps up business incubation, industry R&D

The new Nevada Center for Applied Research is supported by the Governor's Office of Economic Development and a $3.1 million grant through the State of Nevada Knowledge Fund to advance the incubation and growth of business, including emerging bioscience and technology companies, spin-outs from the University and research collaborators.

Here's how it works. Say an entrepreneur or business has an idea for a new biofuel source, new drug or insect control agent, new autonomous system, or an engineering or computational solution. Exploring and testing the concept will require the right equipment and expertise, and the work might require the use of multiple laboratories, testing centers and experts. Many ideas stop at this early stage because the path ahead is too daunting or costly.

"This is for the business or entrepreneur looking to move an opportunity or idea solution forward," said Carlos Cardillo, NCAR director. "We are creating an applied research-and-development-technology center that delivers the intellectual and physical assets of the University to attract industry and enhance the global competitiveness of Nevada industry."

To do this, NCAR will work with businesses and entrepreneurs to help determine the assets and expertise they need, and then develop a customized plan and fee structure. The right technical support may be assembled, and important related services such as training, waste management and internet are also provided or available.

"We believe our structure is unique," said Ellen Purpus, the University's associate vice president for enterprise and innovation. "NCAR further facilitates research and development by taking care of infrastructure so companies can focus on growing their business."

The physical assets available through NCAR include the new Biosciences Entrepreneurial Lab, located in the University's Applied Research Facility, and the University's Shared Research Facilities:

  • The BEL is a "wet lab" space managed by NCAR and fully equipped to accommodate scientific research involving chemicals, compounds or biologics.
  • Shared Research Facilities is the collective name for a network of existing, sophisticated laboratories, centers and makerspaces on campus -- some with capabilities unique in northern Nevada -- now being made available to industry through NCAR.

"NCAR will provide start-ups and established companies with a central and public access point to utilize a wide-range of technical services, intellectual capital, testing and research capabilities in a cost-effective manner, and BEL will provide critical bioscience infrastructure for Nevada companies to reduce some of the cost prohibitive downsides for bio-tech start-ups and early stage companies," said Steve Hill, director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Building, equipping and staffing a single, sophisticated biosciences lab would require a considerable investment, likely millions of dollars. However, NCAR is leveraging primarily existing resources and therefore is far less costly. The BEL is in an existing space on campus that has been repurposed and this, too, is less costly and also serves to direct the facility toward the state's current economic-development priority.

"It's a public good, it creates opportunity," Gautam said of NCAR. "This is a strong example of serving the land-grant university mission in the 21st century."

"Simply put, NCAR and BEL will play a critical role in contributing to the diversification of Nevada's economy and enhancing the research and development capabilities of Nevada industry," Hill said.

For more information about the University's Nevada Center for Applied Research and Biosciences Entrepreneurial Lab, visit www.unr.edu/ncar.

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