In the latest example of commercial development on university campuses, Koll Development Co. of Newport Beach and Cal Poly Pomona have agreed to build an 800,000-square-foot research park on university-owned land.
Inspired by public-private relationships in such places as Palo Alto and the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, Cal Poly officials say they expect the budding research park, known as Innovation Village, to become a cluster of biotechnology businesses. Biotech is a research focus at Cal Poly, where the university recently finished construction on a life sciences laboratory building.
Campus officials say the 65-acre research park, where a NASA-sponsored business incubator was completed last month, will grow to provide funding for campus programs in an age of declining government support.
"The state no longer gives us a budget that fills all of our needs, as they did 20 years ago," said Ed Barnes, associate vice president of executive affairs for Cal Poly, adding that Sacramento now provides about 90% of the school's funding.
As a result, Cal Poly has gone from a "state-supported institution to a state-assisted institution," he said. Donations from graduates help but aren't sufficient to pick up the slack.
"Cal Poly Pomona does not have a well-developed alumni association and needs to find other ways to generate money for the university," he said, adding that the university is "alumni-poor but land-rich."
Marketing the office park will focus on two groups: prospective tenants who are connected to Cal Poly and companies that want to recruit workers from the university, said Michael Kendall, a Koll partner and vice president. "Those two spheres will overlap and create some opportunity."
Kendall said, however, that they will not exclude tenants that do not have a tie-in to the university. In contrast, UC Irvine requires tenants to have a direct relationship with the university, such as commitments to hire student interns, hire university graduates to full-time jobs, or collaborate with faculty members on joint projects.
Cal Poly is one of several public university campuses to get into the real estate business. UC Irvine is developing a major research and development park on campus land, and UC Riverside and Cal State Long Beach are developing similar parks on land outside their campuses.
The Cal Poly-Koll partnership will start construction only on a "build-to-suit" basis--that is, when a tenant agrees to lease space in the research park. Beyond real estate profits, university officials have several agendas for the business park. The first is to add an attraction to faculty members who want to be businesspeople as well as professors. Another is to provide employment and internship opportunities for students.
"Cal Poly prides itself on being a hands-on university, and [the research park] will bring students into contact with business," said Van Garner, president of the College of the Extended University. "We believe we are helping businesses, and we believe they are helping us, by being close to each other."
The university benefits from the research park by "enhancing its curriculum by having a relationship with the outside world," said Julie Holland, NASA Commercialization Center Director, who took a central role in building the incubator that is the first phase of Innovation Village. That relationship, she added, "provides a steady flow of information between industry and the university."
Yet another agenda is to provide for the future expansion of the campus. The university eventually will move into the buildings, Barnes said. Cal Poly will not sell its land or future buildings in the research park. Koll, the development partner, will take long-term leases on the land.
Kendall said ground leases are typical in deals involving private developers on university land. "Most universities want to control their destiny in the long term," he said.
The new 52,000-square-foot, $9.6-million business incubator is the "anchor" of the fledgling office park. (The three-building complex was completed last month prior to the agreement with Koll.) Citing the project as a successful example of attracting outside money to the campus, Cal Poly officials said no university money went toward construction.
Instead, the incubator complex was funded by a combination of public and private sources, including NASA, the Economic Development Administration, the California Trade and Commerce Agency, the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation and the College of the Extended University. Both the foundation and the college have their own budgets separate from the university's general fund.
The incubator complex contains the offices of the College of the Extended University, which is Cal Poly's continuing-education arm, and separate business incubators sponsored by NASA and the Economic Development Administration.