Trustees approve $3M for design of the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center

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The Ohio State University Board of Trustees approved on Friday $3 million for design of a building that will help anchor an envisioned innovation district in the university’s west campus.


The Energy Advancement and Innovation Center will be a hub where Ohio State faculty members, students, alumni, ENGIE researchers, local entrepreneurs and industry experts work together on the next generation of smart energy systems, renewable energy and green mobility solutions.


The university was granted approval for $3 million for professional services for the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center, which will serve as a hub for technology commercialization first outlined in the university’s comprehensive energy management partnership.


The project is a cornerstone of the university’s public-private partnership with Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP). As part of the agreement, OSEP committed $50 million for the project, including $35 million in design and construction costs.


“We are very excited to be moving into the design phase of this watershed project which is one of the cornerstones of our long-term partnership with Ohio State, and as a fellow Buckeye, I feel very lucky to be a part of the development of the innovation district,” said Serdar Tufekci, CEO of OSEP.


The Visionary Project Advisory Committee was formed early in the conceptual stages to guide the university in the governance of the center. Jay Sayre, who serves as Assistant Vice President in the Office of Research and Director of Innovation in the Institute for Materials Research, chairs the committee, which is composed of Ohio State, OSEP, and Columbus community members.


“We envision the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center as a vehicle to propel innovation beyond the R&D stage to commercial successes in the market where everyone can benefit,” Sayre said. “This will be a place where our students will benefit by connecting with the creativity of faculty, staff, ENGIE researchers, and our local community to leave a lasting, impactful legacy on our academic mission.”


The Energy Advancement and Innovation Center is expected to consist of a myriad of spaces on multiple floors, including a section for ENGIE’s 12th global R&D facility, all housed under a canopy of solar panels.


The center will be one of a pair of buildings, along with the Interdisciplinary Research Facility, set to be located west of Kenny Road and south of Lane Avenue. Framework 2.0, the university’s long-term planning vision, identified this area for a future innovation district.


“The west campus district is envisioned as a hub to nurture future public-private partnerships that drive research and provide unique learning opportunities for students, faculty and staff,” said Jay Kasey, Ohio State’s senior vice president in the Office of Administration and Planning. “These buildings will be sited together to share programming, reduce square footage and provide programmatic synergies.”


The full west campus innovation district, outlined in Framework 2.0, will likely take multiple decades to reach completion.


“It will be an exciting place,” said Keith Myers, Ohio State’s vice president of Planning and Real Estate. “Decades from now, we could have 3,000 to 4,000 folks living there. We may have a transit center and research facilities for both Ohio State and potential private partnerships.”


Infrastructure needs, including utilities, parking and transportation, are being studied in conjunction with the proposed projects. All future work will require additional board approvals.


In addition, the university has studied recreational fields and their usage and has been working on a long-term vision for maximizing space, focusing on opportunities close to residential areas and leveraging the university’s proximity to the Olentangy River Corridor.


Article by Mike Huson, IMR Public Relations Coordinator


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