Florida Gulf Cost University (FGCU) officials in Fort Myers held groundbreaking ceremonies for the Emergent Technologies Institute (ETI), a new research campus that will team academics and private sector partners to study and incubate renewable energy technology.
The majority of the 6.5-acre campus will be devoted to outdoor research development fields, where private and public researchers will develop and test new wind, solar, and agricultural technologies. Anchoring the site is a 24,600-sq.-ft. laboratory and classroom building, which will include teaching and research labs, pilot-scale testing facilities, and high-bay shop areas for fabrication.
The ETI’s design makes use of a plug-and-play model that will allow tenant companies to customize their research environments, according to Robert Thomas, AIA, LEED BD+C, architect with LEO A DALY. “We designed an infrastructure that provides a backbone for research, but remains adaptable to the academic and business communities’ needs as they change over time,” Thomas notes.
Researchers will study technologies that impact the use of solar and renewable energy in Southwest Florida as well as technologies to improve farming applications of renewable energy developments. Outdoor experimentation areas will allow for the study of solar desalination of brackish water and anaerobic digestion of food wastes. The site will provide research into active media for use in greenhouses for temperature control as well as the development of shade tolerant landscape plants to grow under solar panels.
The ETI is the first venture in a planned 240-acre technology park known as the Innovation Hub (iHUB), which is being developed by Galvano Development. “The aim is to create the world’s next great university research park… along the lines of Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. iHUB is the perfect point of entry for new companies who see the growth potential of renewable energy, and a great option for established companies interested in the advantages of relocating to a region poised for growth,” comments Rich Galvano, Principal of Galvano Development.
“The ETI is the cornerstone of an economic development effort that will bring jobs and economic diversification to Southwest Florida,” states FGCU President Wilson G. Bradshaw. “The ETI will be an education and research center focused on sustainable energy issues, which is in line with FGCU’s mission and is good for the State of Florida.”