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UNH Seeks to Establish Research Community in Durham
Published Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Marc Sedam is committed to establishing NH’s first research park at the University of NH. His goal is to create a community where researchers and businesses can learn, shop, run errands and live in the same place where they conduct groundbreaking research.

“UNH contributes $1.5 billion annually to New Hampshire’s economy and is the largest source of knowledge workers for our state,” Sedam states on UNH’s website. “We believe a research park could be a huge opportunity for growth and economic development for the university and for the state and we are excited to continue exploring the possibility of building a community of innovation here in Durham.”

Sedam, managing director of UNHInnovation, which manages and promotes UNH’s intellectual property, has been leading an effort to establish a 60-acre research park on UNH-owned land at the corner of Mast Road and Main Street. While the idea for establishing the park is in its infancy, Sedam says UNH wants to include a 200- to 300-seat amphitheater with flexible office space and a business accelerator. But, he adds, this would be more than just a bunch of research facilities located together. He envisions a mixed-use community that also includes housing, shops and restaurants. “You can go get a cup of coffee or dinner and can live and do all of that within walking distance of the university. It’s a value proposition that doesn’t exist in New Hampshire,” he says.

Having these amenities packed in one area, he adds, creates “collision” points for students, faculty, executives and government officials to informally interact.

Sedam says UNH wants to attract businesses that range from startups to major corporations, and they will offer flexible office space without long-term commitments for startups and traditional ground leases for more established companies. He adds there could be a child care center or health center located in the park.  

There are other research parks and communities anchored by universities elsewhere in the country. “Proximity to a university matters,” he says. “The companies we recruit will have to have an authentic relationship with the university. They must have a stated interest or existing relationship with the university that is important.”

The advantages for businesses are plentiful. There's access to students for internships and jobs as well as research faculty. And while other NH communities debate the economic merits of passenger rail service, the UNH campus is a stop on the Amtrak Downeaster, connecting it to Boston.

“We would see more job creation, more sponsored research and more authentic ways to engage with students and the knowledge workforce. When done well, these [research parks] are amazing. We want our piece of amazing,” Sedam says.

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