The University of Connecticut officially opens new Innovation Partnership Building

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UConn President Susan Herbst introduces the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Innovation Partnership Building. Multiple state legislators and representatives of science technology companies also spoke about what the opening of this building means for the future of UConn and the state as a whole. (Photo by Maggie Chafouleas/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut celebrated the Innovative Partnership Building (IPB) opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, attended by UConn President Herbst, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney and other prominent figures who contributed to the development.

Courtney marked the occasion with a speech highlighting the importance of innovation and research at UConn.

“We’re gonna have the finest talent, and we’re gonna have the best equipment, and we’re gonna have the best research, and we’re gonna have the best results and that’s why Connecticut is gonna have a very strong and prosperous future,” Courtney said.

Over 100 people were present for the ceremony, which was attended by UConn staff and students.

Several of the speakers acknowledged the contributions from industry partners to help construct the facility and provide resources for the many research projects to be done.

Dr. Pamir Alpay, executive director of IPB, commended Dave Carter, the senior vice president of engineering of Pratt & Whitney Additive Manufacturing Center, James Hunt, the senior vice president of regulatory affairs and chief communications officer, Dr. Dave Parekh, the corporate vice president of research and director of the research center of United Technologies and Dan Shine, the senior vice president and president of analytical system of Thermo Fisher Scientific for their companies’ support and cooperation with UConn.

“We are very pleased that all our partners are here today, United Technologies with three centers working with our talented chemical, mechanical, materials and electrical engineers. We are very pleased we have a nice partnership Thermo Fisher Scientific,” Alpay said. “We have Eversource here today, which worked our outstanding environmental engineers and computer scientists to better understand weather patterns.”

Hunt said that Eversource will extend their commitment to UConn for three more years and, along with their original investment of nine million dollars they will provide an additional seven million-dollar investment for UConn research purposes.

“We are proud to be part of this next chapter in academic and industry excellence here at UConn. Truly a model public private partnership. We are excited about the diverse industries and technologies that are represented here, and the new careers and economic growth that are resulting from what is being discovered within these walls and above these ceilings,” Hunt said.

UConn received the necessary capital to complete the development of the IPB from both the state of Connecticut and industry partners. In 2012, UConn received a state investment of $172 million, and the UConn Board of Trustees approved for the funding in 2014. (http://dailycampus.com/stories/2015/10/21/uconn-begins-construction-of-1835-million-technology-park) UConn has 10 major industry partners who have committed over $80 million to UConn’s research funds. Approximately $100 million was invested in IPB, and about $40 million was invested in the research equipment and $30 million of the funding was invested in roads and site improvements.

Blumenthal said this investment is essential to further technological and scientific development.

“We all should know, full well, that America will depend on the path-breaking cutting edge research that will be done here,” Blumenthal said.

Of the people who attended the event, many were involved in programs and research based in IPB.

Jessica Martin, a third-year Ph.D student in the Department of Chemistry at UConn said she attended to learn more about the building.

“It was interesting to find out how much went in and how many different components went in to actually get the building to happen,” Martin said.

James Wilson, a fifth-year Ph.D student in the Department of Electrical Engineering, has owned an office in IBP since the building was unofficially opened.

“I’ve been watching [IBP] get more populated over these past few months. It’s really exciting to see the new opportunities that are coming to UConn,” Wilson said. “Like many of the speakers today, I too remain hopeful that a lot of great things will come from this,” Wilson said.

Kenny Okafor and Jackson Haigis, two Global Supply Chain Development Program associates from Pratt & Whitney, said they came to IPB to work with Pratt & Whitney employees and the UConn faculty and to recruit students for his company’s internship program.

Haigis said that IPB will help companies recruit more successful employees.

“I think [IPB] means more growth in the state in terms of UConn and us as in industry. Better talent, more diverse workforce and employees who are more well-rounded,” Haigis said.

Several students present at the event voiced their opinions against Connecticut legislatures for next election. The flier stated that while the students support the opening of IPB, they condemn some of the state legislators present for voting to decimate UConn’s budget and that they caused UConn’s national ranking to drop four places.

“It’s easy to say you support UConn, but we see when you vote against us,” the flier said. “ We notice, we remember and we’ll vote this November.”


Jude Infante is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at jude.infante@uconn.edu.

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