Regents approve UNMC’s Innovation Hub

The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Sept. 30 approved UNMC’s plan to build an innovation hub on its new Saddle Creek campus in Omaha.

The project will bring UNMC’s UNeMed and UNeTech branches together to facilitate the growth of research and innovation and allow entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to collaborate in the renovated 1906 Omaha Steel Castings industrial tract, located south of Farnam Street between 48th Street and Saddle Creek Road.

The Innovation Hub will be a UNMC-owned facility within the larger office development project known as Catalyst. Remaining space will be unfinished and leased to a wide spectrum of biotech and technology startups.

“The UNMC Innovation Hub at Catalyst is the next step to transform the Saddle Creek Campus from industry to innovation,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD. “The flexible lease space will support entrepreneurial businesses in a collaborative environment, will generate income for UNMC and spur regional economic development.”

Within the building, the UNMC Innovation Hub at Catalyst will have access to shared conference rooms, amenities and collaboration zones. The project includes 40,834 gross square feet of designated condo space for UNMC, including 8,510 gross square feet for UNeMed, currently housed in Annex 14 at 4460 Farnam Street, and UNeTech, currently in Annex 32 at 3929 Harney Street.

“This innovation space will help us with our ultimate goal of seeing more university technologies developed into products that make the world a better place,” said Michael Dixon, PhD, president and CEO of the UNeMed Corporation, which works with UNMC faculty, staff and students to commercialize innovative ideas that have the potential to improve health for Nebraska residents and beyond. “In addition to the new building, the associated entrepreneurship development programs will develop and attract more entrepreneurs and collaborators.”

Rodney Markin, MD, PhD, agreed: “The Innovations Hub is critical to the development of a start-up and tech/biotech ecosystem and will be the center piece for our technology development initiatives.” Dr. Markin is associate vice chancellor for business development and executive director of the UNeTech Institute, which is Omaha’s only university-supported startup incubator.

Construction work is expected to begin in fall 2022, with completion in spring 2024.

The Innovation Hub at Catalyst is part of UNMC’s larger Saddle Creek redevelopment project. In June, the Board of Regents approved the administrative facility at the corner of Saddle Creek Road and Farnam Street. Construction on the seven-floor office facility will begin this year with completion in late 2025.