San Antonio: Federal Grant Awarded for UTSA Downtown Innovation Park Study
Feature Photo: The UTSA Downtown campus. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The University of Texas at San Antonio received a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the Tricentennial Innovation Park Study Investment.
UTSA announced the award last week. The funds will go to examine the potential benefit of creating an innovation and research park that will leverage the university’s key areas of research, whose focus is fostering a transformative ecosystem tailor-made for San Antonio in the 21st century.
The proposed Tricentennial Innovation Park would be a dual campus development, utilizing a 50-acre tract of land on Main Campus and prospective land located near the Downtown Campus.
UTSA has advanced a multi-pronged approach in its efforts to expand the downtown campus from its current location west of the PanAm Expressway, growing it eastward into the heart of downtown. Related projects include the ongoing construction of a new Data Science Building, (see also Project ID 2017-7BEB), and College of Business (Project ID 2018-8056).
Al Salgado, assistant vice president for small business and community engagement for UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development, is spearheading the innovation park effort.
“The feasibility study will seek out, promote and integrate our research with government, the private sector and various research foundations,” Salgado said. “It will provide us with the information we need for the site development, governance structure and consultants who will provide planning for the building itself.”
The study also will help UTSA identify the recommended target partners, needed facilities and future costs of the park.
The project supports UTSA’s vision to be a model for student success, a great public research university and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence.
It would integrate collaboration space among researchers and provide corporate access to research staff and student interns. It would allocate laboratory research space with private offices, state-of-the-art lab equipment, lease space for small and large businesses, work space and technology for networking, and co-working for students, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders, including the Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force.
Upon completion, the project would provide a community-wide innovation space that allows university and non-university community members to participate in the development of San Antonio’s economy, while positioning UTSA as a leading research institution in South Texas.
“The Tricentennial Innovation Park will offer San Antonio–area companies a competitive advantage for attracting customers, talent and funding to grow their businesses,” said Salgado.
Architect’s rendering of the UTSA Downtown campus (left center). Several blocks east of the expressway are targeted for acquisition to expand the campus. Structure images in white are those proposed in concept.
U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who represents the 23rd Texas district, supported the funding for the study.
“I am proud to see UTSA investing in a project that could potentially benefit the entire San Antonio metro area,” Hurd said. “The innovation and research park could help the next great American innovation come to life, or it could provide an entrepreneur with their first big break.”
Once the 12-month feasibility project is complete, UTSA leadership will review it to decide next steps in the development and build of the innovation park.
Concurrent with this study, UTSA is in talks with the Energy Department to establish a $70 million cybersecurity research
institute at the school’s downtown campus, its mission to safeguard manufacturers who rely heavily on automation, the Express-News reported in May.
University and government officials have said the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute will play an important role in modernizing network security for advanced manufacturers in the United States.
“UTSA has entered into negotiations with (the Energy Department) and will work toward finalizing the cooperative agreement,” university officials said in a statement.
Edited from UTSA and Congressman Hurd news releases and media reports.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.