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UNMC celebrates groundbreaking of Catalyst

From left, U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, at the event

From left, U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, University of Nebraska President Ted Carter and UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, at the event

University of Nebraska Medical Center Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, praised the community partnerships that keep UNMC on the cutting edge of research, education and clinical care Monday at a ground-breaking event for the Innovation Hub at Catalyst, which the university is building near 48th Street and Saddle Creek Road in Omaha.

UNMC held the groundbreaking ceremony off-site at the Dr. Edwin G. & Dorothy Balbach Davis Global Center, 42nd and Emile Streets.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, MD, welcomed Gov. Jim Pillen, U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts; Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, University of Nebraska System President Ted Carter and Carl Koelbel, chief operating officer of Koelbel and Company, the development team leading the renovation and redevelopment of the former Omaha Steel Works property, to the event.

See photo album from event.

“This project – and the neighborhood that will surround it – will revolutionize the western edge of our Omaha campus,” Dr. Gold said. “More so, the new products, drugs, treatments and devices that are developed in this facility, through academic innovation, private ingenuity and so much more, will benefit all of humankind for generations to come.”

The Innovation Hub at Catalyst is part of UNMC’s larger Saddle Creek redevelopment project in Midtown Omaha. The Catalyst building 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. Remaining space will be unfinished and leased to a wide spectrum of biotech and technology startups.

Work has begun on the site and completion of the Catalyst facility is expected in late 2024.

“This is a day to celebrate something new that’s coming to UNMC,” Carter said, noting the importance of promoting an entrepreneurial culture. “The type of lab to market activity that is so crucial to growing Nebraska’s tech economy is exactly what we hope will occur at Catalyst. The more ideas we spark, the more partnerships we can form and the more economic growth we create for Nebraska. That’s a win for the entire state.”

Gov. Jim Pillen praised Nebraska’s unique public-private partnerships and philanthropic spirit, saying: “This is another extraordinary day in the growth of Nebraska…When there’s needs and opportunities and innovations, Nebraskans step up 100% of the time.”

The project reflects the United States’ innovative spirit, Sen. Ricketts said, adding, “When we’re talking about development and innovation, this project is emblematic of who we are as Nebraska and Americans.”

Mayor Stothert agreed, saying the day was a celebration of growth and opportunity. “Once a place of industry and history, and now a future of medical research and innovation, the Catalyst is part of our vision to make Omaha’s urban core the economic engine of the entire region.

“Progress requires initiative, experience and commitment to our community,” Stothert said. “The momentum of our urban core is undeniable. The Catalyst will offer another compelling reason to attract the best and brightest to our state for research, innovation and investment.”

On behalf of U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, constituent liaison Alicia Ostrander, said the innovation hub will help “grow research to benefit the city state, country and world.”

And, the Catalyst facility will emit a vibe of energy, collaboration and innovation, said Carl Koelbel, chief operating officer of Koelbel and Company. “This project is a great signal that UNMC, Omaha and Nebraska is open for business, advancement, innovation and collaboration. And, in 18 months Catalyst will be open for tenancy; so if you know of any people in health care looking for a home, send them our way.”

For more information on Catalyst, including leasing opportunities, visit Koelbel’s Catalyst site.

Inventions, Dr. Gold said, not only make lives better, but are important for the health of great universities. UNMC has a proud history of technology transfer, he said, noting that in the past two decades, med center physicians and health care scientists have registered nearly 1,500 inventions and 300 licensing agreements. In the past five years alone, he said, there were over 500 invention disclosures, resulting in more than 90 licensing agreements and well over $10 million in incremental revenue.

In addition, Dr. Gold said, the med center has given birth to 19 startup companies during the same period of time, taking products to the marketplace, strengthening the economy and of course, improving the human condition.