"Cultivating a Spirit of Collaboration"

University Gym
10th Street and the 45/46 Bypass, Northeast Corner
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
November 18, 2008

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Introduction: Collaboration and Creativity

In his recent study Group Genius, psychologist Keith Sawyer argues that “[c]ollaboration is the secret to breakthrough creativity.”1 He draws examples from the business world, from the performing arts, and even from IU basketball. He could very easily have focused on the highly collaborative world of basic scientific research here at Indiana University and our outstanding faculty whose diligent efforts have led to breakthroughs in the worlds of technology, genetics, medicine, biology, chemistry, and other disciplines and interdisciplinary areas. Today we are breaking ground on a new home for collaboration, creativity, and growth at Indiana University.

Wet Lab Space and a Reservoir of Knowledge

This 40,000 square-foot incubator facility will make a transformative difference here at IU, providing space for applied research projects in information technology. It will also provide one of the most important features necessary for developing life-sciences research. That is wet lab space.

Such space has been in very short supply on the IU Bloomington campus. In fact, some of our most talented and enterprising faculty have been driven to explore other space options as they attempt to nurture innovative technologies and launch new start-up companies in the life sciences and in IT. This incubator creates a new state-of-the-art home for those activities at IU.

More than that, this business incubator will foster a greater degree of technology transfer on the Bloomington campus. One of this campus’ greatest strengths is basic scientific research, as scholars fully and freely explore their research interests. As such, our scholars create a vast reservoir of knowledge and innovation. As a public university, we have a responsibility to transform and mobilize that knowledge and innovation in order to benefit the public. In essence, this incubator allows us to more efficiently transform the knowledge and innovation gained through basic research into products, services, and ultimately into jobs that help stimulate local and regional economies.2

Local and Regional Economies

We need only take a look across the state to see the importance of the life sciences to the Indiana economy. Anchoring the Indiana economic landscape are companies such as the Cook Group, Baxter, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly and Company, Roche Diagnostics, Biomet, and Zimmer, and Clarian Health Partners, a joint partnership that was established in 1997. That was when Indiana University joined forces with Methodist Hospital and the Riley Hospital for Children to create the largest health system in Indiana and one of the largest in the nation.

IU’s partnership with Clarian only begins to suggest the level of partnership and collaboration we are fostering across our Bloomington campus and around the state.

Just last August, we announced a $25 million Clinical and Translational Science Award that reinforces the alliance between IU and Purdue, and tomorrow I will be joining President Cordova to present the Indiana Innovation Alliance, another IU and Purdue collaboration, to the State Budget Committee. Later this week University of Notre Dame President Jenkins and I will be breaking ground on Harper Hall, future home of the Harper Cancer Research Institute where IU and Notre Dame researchers will collaborate in the fight against cancer.

Pervasive Technology Institute

These examples suggest the culture of collaboration that supports life sciences research across the state. That culture of collaboration will also thrive in this new facility, which will house tech-based and life sciences start ups. This new facility will also allow students to work closely with faculty to gain invaluable firsthand experience about partnerships between universities and industry right here in Indiana. This is the kind of experience that translates into a strong incentive for those students to stay and contribute their tremendous talents to help grow the Indiana economy.3

The strategic location of this project here at Tenth and the Bypass is testimony to another aspect of the vision behind the facility. This area is fast becoming the locus for a wide range of life science and tech-based enterprises and in future years, it is conceivable that it will serve as the anchor for the university’s technology corridor, extending north along the bypass to the IU Cyclotron facility. The incubator facility will be complemented by the new IU Data Center, which will become operational next spring and the planned Cyber Infrastructure Building.

In fact, one of the first tenants of this facility will be the newly established Pervasive Technology Institute. Today, I am delighted to announce that the Lilly Endowment has awarded Indiana University $15 million over the next five years to establish this institute, which builds on IU’s longstanding leadership in applied IT research and advanced IT infrastructure. It also has as its foundation the tremendous success of the Indiana Pervasive Computing Research Initiative, established in 1999 also with generous funding from the Lilly Endowment. That initiative led to the creation of the Pervasive Technology Labs, which include six applied research laboratories focusing on areas such as advanced network management, visualization systems, and grid computing. Scientists with Pervasive Tech Labs have produced well over 700 publications, have registered 38 inventions with the IU Research and Technology Corporation, and have received well over $100 million in funding through grants and contracts.

Like Pervasive Tech Labs, the Pervasive Technology Institute will help Indiana University leverage its leadership role in information technology in the interest of economic development through advanced research. Based both here in Bloomington and at IUPUI, it will include three research centers focused on collaborative computation, managing and understanding vast amounts of digital data, and cybersecurity, headed by Professors Geoffrey Fox, Beth Plale, and Fred Cate. We are deeply grateful to the Lilly Endowment for this gift and for its continuing support of Indiana University.

Together with other tenants of this new facility, the Pervasive Technology Institute will generate a synergy that promises to drive development and attract private sector investment.

As we develop this facility, we remain committed to working with Mayor Kruzan and his staff in order to complement the downtown certified technology park—an area that provides unique resources for “graduated” tech-based companies that may have had their start at this incubator facility.

Leadership and Vision

The great potential this incubator facility holds for Indiana University and for the region would never have been realized without the vision and leadership of a number of people here at IU.

In particular, I would like to thank Vice President for Engagement Bill Stephan, who has dedicated so much energy and time to this project. In his first year leading IU’s Office of Engagement, he has coordinated our outreach efforts, improved communication with key stakeholders, formed new partnerships, and enhanced IU’s contributions to the state’s economic well-being.

Bill has been ably assisted in these efforts by Tony Armstrong, President and CEO of the IU Research and Technology Corporation, which will be operating and managing this new incubator facility, much as they do IU’s incubator facility in Indianapolis, the Emerging Technology Center.

I would also like to commend Professor Ted Widlanski, who has served as a technical advisor on this project. His expertise has been invaluable in the conception and design of the facility. Professor Widlanski also chaired the original IU Incubator Task Force, the members of which also deserve our thanks as we get this important project underway.

Finally, let me again thank Vice President for Administration, Terry Clapacs, and his staff for moving this project forward so quickly and efficiently. We anticipate that construction will be finished by next summer. The building is expected to be LEED certified and will incorporate some of the most environmentally friendly and energy efficient technologies currently available.

Conclusion: The Spirit of Collaboration

As with so many projects of its scale and complexity, this incubator facility has grown out of the spirit of collaboration that I mentioned earlier. It is this spirit that ignites ideas and accelerates growth. It is this spirit that drives university research forward. It is this spirit that is at the heart of our pursuit of excellence in education and research at Indiana University.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

  1. Sawyer, Keith. Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. New York: Westview, 2007. Page ix.
  2. Authors Timothy L. Faley and Michael Sharer in “Technology Transfer Innovation: Reexamining and Broadening the Perspective of the Transfer of Discoveries Resulting from Government-Sponsored Research” (Comparative Technology Transfer and Society 3.2 (August 2005): 109-30) draw from Vannevar Bush’s “Science: The Endless Frontier” using the metaphor of a hydroelectric dam for university’s tech-transfer activities. The reservoir of knowledge behind the dam represents university research. That reservoir must be managed (through commercialization) in order to turn the turbines of commerce held within the dam.
  3. Richard Atkinson in “The Role of Research in the University of the Future” (delivered at the United Nations University Tokyo, Japan, 11/04/97) made a parallel argument about the role students’ were playing in the University of California Industry-University Cooperative Research Program www.rca.ucsd.edu/speeches/role.pdf.