By: Cole Miller
Tonight, we're one step closer to the reality of Innovation Campus. The first big collaboration was announced, and it's a name you've probably heard before.
That collaboration is with ConAgra foods. Not only are they a superpower in Nebraska, but a big force in the world economy. It's a move many state and university leaders are excited about.
Shovels in hand, dirt flying up into the air. To most, it may not look like much, but to the University of Nebraska, state and local leaders, it's huge.
"The potential here is enormous," Lincoln mayor Chris Beutler said.
It's the groundbreaking of Innovation Campus and the announcement of a big time partnership for its first tenant, ConAgra Foods.
"We can re-write how we can take the best of the University, the best of industry and out of that, take innovation to a new level," ConAgra executive Al Bolles said.
It's a collaboration designed to create new education and development opportunities with the company's food science program. Lincoln mayor Chris Beutler says teamwork made the whole thing possible.
"The spirit of cooperation between the public and private sectors here I think is a shining example of what can be accomplished when we all work together and focus on a common goal," Beutler said.
When it's all said and done, Innovation Campus, which is where the old state fairgrounds was, will be a sprawling, 2 million square foot research space, with as many as 7,000 people working together. And with a top-tier company like ConAgra on board, the university says the future is a bright one.
"This is about an investment in creating a real force in an innovation economy, for taking advantage of the talent in Nebraska. For taking advantage of the strengths we have at the university in food and fuel and water and other areas and putting that to work for Nebraskans. That's what innovation campus is about," University of Nebraska President J.B. Milliken said.
ConAgra says they will focus on ways to improve their tomato and popcorn based products. Popular brands you've probably heard of like Hunt's and Orville Redenbacher's.
You can learn more about Innovation Campus by visiting http://innovate.unl.edu/.