Renovations are currently underway at 2900 Reading Rd. — once the Uptown home of Sears & Roebuck — where leaders at UC will soon unveil a 133,000-square-foot innovation lab for students and faculty across all departments to mingle with top business leaders, researchers, economic developers and nonprofit professionals.
Named for the year UC was founded, the 1819 Innovation Hub will be fully open and accessible by next summer. The hub is a result of a “mutually beneficial” relationship between UC and Procter & Gamble — whose Live Well Collaborative will be the hub’s anchor tenant — according to UC’s first-ever chief innovation officer David Adams.
“Let this be the place where magic occurs,” says Adams, whose team reports to UC president Neville Pinto and is tasked with maintaining the strategic vision for the 1819 Innovation Hub as an effective interface between local industry and talent. The plan is for local businesses to liaise (via Adams) with UC students from all disciplines — a format that sets this program apart from those offered by other higher education institutions.
“The vision is for this hub to be school-agnostic,” says Adams. “Engineering students, art students, nursing students and business students can work together to bring their ideas to fruition faster, in one building, and with support and mentorship from key industry stakeholders.”
The facility’s location is also strategic: It’s less than one mile from UC’s main campus, the distance research shows as ideal for student access, says Adams.
According to published plans, the hub’s first floor will house a 12,000-square-foot makerspace furnished with hand tools, 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines. The second floor will primarily consist of multi-purpose learning, event and meeting spaces. A third-floor café, coffee and food area will neighbor gallery space where student artwork and other exhibits will be displayed.
The fourth-floor simulation center will presumably be where the real talent-pipeline magic happens, with students working on real-life projects for P&G. Adams says a goal of the 1819 Innovation Hub is to begin partnering with area high schools and middle schools to reach students earlier in the education lifecycle.
Experience is another factor that shows promise for the 1819 Innovation Hub. Adams arrived at UC last July via the University of Louisville, where he oversaw the $1.2 billion financial and operational aspects of the university and pioneered an academic-industry talent funnel there.
Click here for more info, and to view 1819 Innovation Hub photos and renderings.