By Kristina Michel
Since acquiring the Energy Research Park in 2009, the University of Houston had a long-term plan of making the park a hub for student and faculty research as well as up-and-coming business and technology startups. Many of the ERP buildings have undergone extensive renovations and upgrades as part of this plan. Now, Building 5 can be added to that group.
Over the last 18 months, ERP Building 5 was transformed into a state-of-the-art chemical wet lab. The new Innovation Lab, along with the Innovation Center inside Building 4, will serve as an incubator for chemical and materials sciences startups. The renovation, which was completed in early June, is the result of a collaborative effort by the Office of Real Estate Services, the Division of Research and Facilities Planning and Construction.
“The new Innovation Lab will be the home for leasable space for research-based startup businesses,” said Jason Trippier, director of UHS Properties. “The laboratory and office space will support the development and growth of promising seed and early-stage business ventures, and will open opportunities to find third-party investment support.”
The 30,000-square-foot building comprises 28 fume hoods, 250 lab benches, a break room, a conference room, large labs and supporting labs. Each room contains natural lighting, increasing the facility’s energy efficiency. The building also has its own emergency generator to protect specimens in case of a power outage.
“This was a really exciting project. It’s one of those projects I want to put on my resume,” said Joujou Zebdaoui, principal project manager who oversaw the renovation. “There were a lot of challenges considering it’s an older building, but we were able to address them quickly and complete the renovation on schedule and on budget.”
Over the past several years, the University has developed a strong innovation ecosystem that supports startup ventures through incubator and accelerator programs. More than ten new startups emerge from UH each year, many of which are powered by UH alumni, students and faculty. Intellectual property commercialized by these startups have helped generate more than $22 million in licensing revenue in fiscal year 2015, making UH the top university in the nation for licensing revenue among public universities without a medical school.
Now that the Building 5 renovation is complete, the Office of Real Estate Services will be responsible for negotiation of leases and memorandums of university occupancy, and will maintain relations with any future tenants.
For more information on the Innovation Lab and the overall incubators program, visit www.uh.edu/incubators/.
For more information about the Office of Real Estate services visit www.uh.edu/af/universityservices/realestate/.