The University of Utah Research Park, established in 1970 after part of Fort Douglas was deeded to the University of Utah, is now the nation's 12th largest.
A report from the university's Bureau of Economic and Business Research shows that the research park buildings contain 2.1 million square feet and the companies occupying the buildings employ 4,750 workers. Of the 240 leaseable acres, only 84 remain to be developed, said James W. Wood, senior research analyst.The nation's largest research park is the Irvine Spectrum sponsored by the University of California at Irvine. The Spectrum has 20 million square feet.
The U. of U. Research Park's development has been characterized by a steady pace of land absorption, new construction and employment growth. Between 1972 and 1982, 829,000 square feet were leased to park tenants. In 1982, when Northwest Energy Co. completed a 295,000-square-foot building, the lease space in the park increased by 50 percent.
Between 1982 and 1992, the leased space remained at 869,250 square feet. The amount of land leased in this period was 64.4 acres. "The pace of development in the park has been very consistent, averaging between six and seven acres a year," Wood said.
Employment growth in the park has been less consistent, but employment increased in all but three years of the park's history, he said. The largest employment increase occurred in 1982 when the Northwest building was occupied.
Between 1992 and 1995, the park suffered its worst period of employment growth due to the downsizing of Evans & Sutherland, Ford, Bacon & Davis and the Western Institute of Neuropsychiatry, but no major unemployment losses occurred in other areas.
Ownership of the 2.1 million square feet is either owner-occupied, developer-owned and leased or University Research Foundation-owned and leased. Park tenants fall in the categories of research and development-based, support services firms, non-technology and U. of U. colleges and departments.
Wood said it is important to note that between 1983 and 1996 university employees working in the research park increased from 215 to 1,049, an increase from 8 to 21.6 percent. The number of technology-based company employees remained constant in the past few years, but because of the increase in university-related activity, the number of employees in non-technology companies has declined.
Wood said some developers view the research park as unfair competition, but it has played a minor role in the Salt Lake County real estate market. He said the park has complemented the research market and without it there would be no commercial/office space close to the university.
The interaction between firms in research park and the university has been high for nearly 20 years, Wood said. "The number of firms in the park using faculty members as consultants, participating in joint research projects and hiring students or faculty has been well above 50 percent and in some cases reaching as high as 80 percent to 90 percent, he said.
Research parks - University related - Top 12
Rank Park Employees Affiliation
1. Irvine Spectrum 32,000 University of California, Irvine
2. Research Traigle Park 33,000 Duke, N.Carolina, N.Carolina St.
3. Stanford Research Park 26,000 Stanford University
4. Cummings Research Park 22,000 University of Alabama
5. University Research Park 11,000 U.N.C.-Charlotte
6. Louisiana Biomedical Res. 15,000 Tulane University, LSU
7. Oakland Technology Park 6,000 Oakland University
8. Princeton Forrestal Center 10,000 Princeton University
9. Metro Tech 14,000 Polytechnic University
10. Tri-Cities Science Park 7,000 Washington St. University
11. University City Science Ctr. 6,500 University of PennsylvaniaComment on this story
12. UNIVERSITY OF UTAH RES. PARK 4,750 University of Utah
Source: Worldwide Research and Science Park Directory, Association of University Related Research Parks