Nebraska Innovation Campus Will Address Global Food Issues

By Jessica Sorensen

"You probably ask 100 people, you're going to get 100 different answers, but I think food scarcity is both a quantity and quality issue," according to Dan Duncan, executive director of Nebraska Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "It's not just having the quantity of food needed but it's having the quality of food, the nutritious food, to provide a good diet for everyone."

Nebraska Innovation Campus is bringing talented people together from private industries and the University of Nebraska to generate innovation that impacts the world, Duncan said.

Duncan said there are almost 250 acres of land for Nebraska Innovation Campus and because some of that land is in the floodplain, 130 acres of it is buildable ground.

Duncan said he hopes the land will be fully developed by 2037 or sooner.

"It'll be a very dense urban-type environment like you would see downtown, with about two million square feet of class A office and research space," he said. "A little bit of retail space, maybe some housing, maybe a hotel and up to 7,000 people working in that environment in 25 years."

According to Duncan, if Nebraska Innovation Campus were to reach its goal of building out 80,000-square-feet in a year, that could mean a cost of $25 million per year for construction and to populate and staff the buildings. However, this could result in significant activity for the Lincoln and Nebraska economy on an ongoing annual basis.

"We want to raise the stature of the university," Duncan said. "There's some very aggressive growth goals for the university in terms of a number of students, increases in faculty, increases in research expenditures and we'll be able to play a big role at Innovation Campus in enabling that to happen."

Lincoln, Nebraska skyline
Building Nebraska Innovation Campus

According to Duncan, there will be a number of university entities that will be moving to Nebraska Innovation Campus when the first phase of building begins, with the most significant one being the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute (DWFI). Duncan said the first phase of building also will include business outreach and service operations so that NUtech Ventures, industry relations and Nebraska Innovation Campus offices can all be merged to one location.

Duncan said Phase One of the campus includes renovating two historic buildings and linking them with two new buildings. In this complex, there will be a greenhouse, labs, a 380-seat raised-floor conference room, an outdoor plaza and hopefully, a restaurant.

In addition, Duncan said researchers are working with faculty members to see what types of programs should be moved to Nebraska Innovation Campus.

"We picked themes for Innovation Campus based on where Nebraska's economy, strengths of the university and potential growth areas in research all intersected to develop broad themes that would give us a great starting point and increase our chances of success," he said. "Food, fuel and water, every one of those is critically important to every citizen in Nebraska. We think those themed areas together with the capability of our faculty provide a niche opportunity that others maybe aren't exploiting across the nation."

Duncan said he hopes Nebraska Innovation Campus will have a campus-type atmosphere.

"Innovation Campus plays a role in helping implement campus strategic plans," he said. "It gives us a place where we can do things that either aren't suited to do on campus or we aren't able to do on campus and so I would look at Innovation Campus more as supporting both the research and economic growth initiative."

Playing a part in the 2050 challenge

With the expansion of Nebraska Innovation Campus come new opportunities for research. According to Duncan, one area that Nebraska Innovation Campus is focusing on is the 2050 challenge; by then the world's population is expected to have doubled.

"It's going to take multiple entities working together to solve some of the grand challenges," Duncan said. "Specifically, one we look at is doubling our food production by 2050 and how and what role we can play in solving that challenge."

According to Duncan, Nebraska Innovation Campus will promote collaborations between university and private industries and he expects there to be an environment of trust among researchers.


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Ronnie Green

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Facing the Global Food Challenge

A Place Without Limits: NU's Leading Role in Ag Innovation - J.B. Milliken

"Ag is Sexy Again" as Global Need for Food Increases- Ronnie Green

Today's Students- Learning to Solve the Challenge of Feeding the World- Steven Waller

Ag Researchers' New Knowledge Benefits Nebraska, the World - Ron Yoder

"Failure is Not an Option" in Addressing Global Food Scarcity- Archie Clutter

Nebraska Innovation Campus Will Address Global Food Issues- Dan Duncan

Lenton the Founding Director of Daugherty Water for Food Institute- Roberto Lenton

Growing More Food with Less Water, Improving Global Water Condition- Marc Andreini

Dickey Reflects on Years as Dean of Extension- Elbert Dickey

Food Scarcity Information Dissemination Complex, Vital- Karen Cannon

Technology and Food

Driving Toward the Future of Biofuels, Molecular Nutrition- Paul Black

Nebraska- the Food Capital of the World?- Rolando Flores

Is a Fully-Sustainable World Within Reach?- Mark Burbach

Agricultural Efficiency Sustains Resources, Produces More- Roch Gaussoin

Technology, Teamwork and Stewardship Vital in Meeting 2050 Global Food Need- P. Stephen Baenziger

UNL Research, Extension Help Ag Producers Manage a Changing Climate- Suat Irmak

Protein Production Essential in Feeding the World- Matt Spangler

Nebraska's Irrigation Research Goes Global- William Kranz

The Plight of the Honey Bee- Marion Ellis

Global Goal: Reducing Hunger, Ensuring Food Safety and Nutrition- Tim Carr

Society's Health Reflects Changing Food Culture- Georgia Jones and Marilynn Schnepf

Steps to Building a Healthier World- Jean Ann Fischer

Economics of Food

Ag Economists- Working to Assure Abundant, Safe Food- Larry Van Tassell

Global Food Scarcity, Distribution, Roadblocks- Dennis Conley

Global Economics Research Explains Food Scarcity Challenges- Lilyan Fulginiti

World Food Supply Adequate, but Poverty is the Problem- Wes Peterson

Ag Land Reflects Value of Growing Food for the Future- Bruce Johnson

Strengthening World Economies, Increased Production Key to Food Challenges- Eric Thompson

There is No Place Like Nebraska for Meeting Food Challenges- Greg Ibach

A Land of Plenty- Exporting to the World Stan Garbacz- Stan Garbacz