That’s why he told a group of state legislators on Thursday that the coming Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park will be such a game changer for the community.
The park, under development behind the Speed School on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus, will include additional research facilities for the engineering unit, offices for applied sciences researchers and space for private companies that want to form partnerships with the university.
Infrastructure work is under way on the 39-acre site, and plans are being drafted for a first building there. The park is being developed by the University of Louisville Foundation.
Creating such a park is “a rare opportunity for most universities in an urban area,” Pinto said, adding that he expects it to “pay off on a grand scale.”
Pinto made his comments to the interim joint committee on labor and industry and the interim joint committee on economic development and tourism of the Kentucky General Assembly. The two committees met at The Kentucky Center in downtown Louisville.
Pinto shared with lawmakers his vision for the research park and the “new paradigm that we’re going to be pushing for manufacturing.”
He also discussed the benefits that the park will create for UofL students and faculty, providing them opportunities to work with progressive companies and solve real-world problems.
The Speed School dean explained that the park will be anchored by what is being called the Institute for Product Realization, which will include a co-creation hub, research and education space and a launch pad for emerging private companies. It also will have a micro-factory for the construction of innovative new products, similar to the FirstBuild facility that opened in July on the Belknap Campus.
FirstBuild is a partnership among UofL, GE Appliances and Local Motors, an Arizona-based open-source hardware innovator.
UofL Foundation officials envision the first building at the research park as a 225,000-square-foot structure that would house much of the institute. More than half of the space would be used for manufacturing.
“This is not going to be a traditional university building,” Pinto told legislators.
In addition to manufacturing, areas of concentration at the institute will be logistics, renewable energy and analytics and computing.
The Belknap research park also will be home to a satellite location for a Chicago-based advanced manufacturing institute.
UofL is one of the prime players in a consortium of Midwestern universities and companies chosen to participate in the planned $320 million Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute announced earlier this year by President Obama. The institute’s goal will be to increase the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector of America’s economy by developing software, data management tools and production processes that reduce costs and improve efficiencies for both large and small companies.