Ryan Chartrand

A new on-campus technology park designed to facilitate collaboration between Cal Poly and the technology industry is set to begin contractor bidding on Sept. 13, bearing approval by the CSU Board of Trustees.

The California Central Coast Research Partnership (C3RP) proposed the technology park project over the last several years. Now, with an on-campus site selected and a list of tenants being drafted, technology-based companies involved in research in areas such as bio-engineering and software development may have a permanent home on campus by spring 2010.

Plans are currently for one building providing 25,000 square ft. of space located on Mount Bishop Road on the site of the old softball field, across from the dairy unit buildings.

Tenants will lease the space from the Cal Poly Corporation and the local economy will benefit from the tax revenues generated by retail sales and payroll taxes on the approximately 50 new jobs immediately created, said James Dunning, the project administrator for C3RP.

Students are expected to benefit from the arrangement through internships and part-time employment opportunities, working in their majors and possibly finding placement after graduation.

“That gives the student the opportunity to see the companies – they’re in close proximity.(they) work for them, see their management team, see what kind of opportunities may be available,” Dunning said.

Dunning’s idea of a day for a typical student employee would see them starting off with a 9 a.m. class, working from noon to 4 p.m. at the facility a short bike ride away, and perhaps taking an evening lab.

Up to 25 percent of the space in the building could be “wet labs,” laboratories where chemicals, drugs or other biological matter are tested and analyzed, requiring special utilities, said Johan Uyttewaal, Cal Poly’s associate director of facility planning and capital projects.

The companies will pay for this amenity, but under leasing agreements the university will allocate a budget for property improvements, Dunning said.

While the range of industry being housed at the technology park is limited to research and development, job opportunities may be forthcoming for students from unrelated majors.

“They’re technical fields so all of the engineering curriculum – and that includes software, maybe some architecture and engineering combined, the industrial manufacturing curriculum, the folks at the College of Business – all may find work out there,” Dunning said.

As companies at the park expand and develop new ideas, there may be a need for technical writers and media work.

“I’m going to try to promote to the companies in the tech park that we have a very extensive graphic arts program here, and have the student-run print shop,” Dunning said. “So (there are) not just opportunities for engineering (but there) could be marketing and business teams working for these companies as well.”

While businesses, especially local companies, may be interested in taking up residency in the technology park because of the opportunities to access Cal Poly’s faculty, students and lab equipment, there are other less tangible reasons as well.

“I just love the Central Coast,” Applied Biotechnology Institutes president John Howard said of his decision to locate at the tech park.

Howard’s company has already had offices for two years in building 36 on campus, and finds it to be an advantageous arrangement for occasional collaboration with professors and students.

He said that the company already has most of the talent and capital needed but the advantage of being at Cal Poly is in the school’s equipment and expertise.

Uyttewaal said the project is pending final approval from the CSU Board of Trustees before a contract can be handed out to begin work on the tech park.

“I would say that there is a 99 percent chance that we get this project but it still has that step.”

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