Thursday, June 8, 2023

Editor's note: The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, approved this change at its June 14 meeting.

The University of Iowa is asking the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, to bolster the appeal of the UI Research Park to biotech and medical research firms by allowing more flexible terms for securing land on which they build.

The park is already home to more than 30 cutting-edge research companies, and this change will make locating in the park easier for and more attractive to companies who currently are only able to obtain subleases.

“Allowing the university to directly sell or lease land where appropriate will help attract new business to the research park, growing Iowa’s workforce and enhancing the state’s biosciences industry reputation,” says Jon Darsee, UI’s chief innovation officer.

The UI Research Park was established in 1989 on a now 185-acre parcel of land on the UI’s Oakdale campus in Coralville. Unlike many other research parks, including one at Iowa State University, the UI does not own the land directly, but leases it through a long-term agreement with the Board of Regents and a UI entity called UI Research Park Corporation (UIRP).

That creates challenges for developers because they are unable to directly purchase or lease land to construct their privately-owned research facilities and must instead enter a sublease through UIRP, Darsee says.

This arrangement often eliminates the research park from being considered for development because companies seek ownership opportunities and developers want company leaseback agreements. This is particularly true of biotech companies that want ready access to the resources and talent at the UI Hospitals & Clinics and Carver College of Medicine.

The Board of Regents will consider the proposal at its June 13—14 meeting in Iowa City.