In the year following its groundbreaking last June, all aspects of Bioscience Connecticut have moved forward on time and on budget. Of note, the project has created about 500 construction and related jobs on the UConn Health Center campus in its first year, including higher-than-required averages for small business participation and 85 percent of all work going to Connecticut-based contractors. The number of construction jobs will rise significantly over the next three years.
“Bioscience Connecticut was an important first step in positioning Connecticut as a leader in the industry,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “This investment, in conjunction with the new Bioscience Innovation Fund and our other efforts, not only creates thousands of good paying jobs with good benefits, but also highlights the commitment we have to growing this sector of our economy. Our vigorous approach to establishing long-term partnerships between our universities, medical centers, and private sector businesses will strengthen Connecticut’s overall economic strength and competitiveness.”
Championed by Malloy and approved by the Connecticut General Assembly in 2011, Bioscience Connecticut is a forward-thinking plan to create thousands of construction and related jobs in the short term and generate long-term, sustainable economic growth based on bioscience research, innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization. It is a multifaceted plan that will help reinvent the state’s economy, drawing upon research resources from UConn, the UConn Health Center, Yale University, and points in between.
“As we move forward with this exciting project, we remain enormously appreciative of the support and confidence entrusted to us from Governor Malloy and the General Assembly,” says Dr. Frank M. Torti, the Health Center’s executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine. “Bioscience Connecticut is changing the landscape of the UConn Health Center as well as the entire region. The plan includes both construction and renovations on the Farmington campus, in addition to community-based initiatives to help solve pressing health care problems and increase the number of health care providers available to care for our state for years to come.”
Of note, Bioscience Connecticut garnered more than $1.45 million in philanthropic support in its first year. This includes proceeds from the 2013 White Coat Gala, as well as gifts of $250,000 each from Richard and Jane Lublin and the Chase family: David and Rhoda Chase, Arnold and Sandra Chase, and Cheryl Chase and Stuart Bear.
Here is a look at the progress of the first year, connected with the three main goals of Bioscience Connecticut.
- Research Renovations: In December 2012, the first of two multi-phased renovation projects started in the Health Center’s original research tower. The work is being undertaken in phases to minimize disruptions to researchers’ ongoing work. To date, demolition work has been completed for the first part of the first phase and the renovation construction work is underway. The entire renovation will be completed in late 2017.
- Space for Startup Businesses and Commercialization: Design work is underway for the addition of 28,000 square feet of new incubator space to foster new bioscience industries and startups. The incubators, as well as a data disaster recovery center, will be built as an addition to the Health Center’s Cell and Genome Sciences Building and are expected to be completed in late 2015.
- Colleagues from Maine Have Arrived: Construction of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, which resulted from the first return on the state’s Bioscience Connecticut investment, is moving forward. A portion of land on the Health Center campus was cleared in October to allow construction to begin. The steel structure on the Health Center’s lower campus is now complete and construction is expected to end in late 2014. About 55 workers are currently on the construction site each day. In the meantime, 37 full-time employees – many of whom are from Connecticut – are now working in Farmington for the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, and recruitment continues. In addition, the University created an Institute for Systems Genomics that includes faculty from the Health Center and Storrs, and has the potential to raise the University’s stature as a global leader in genomics research.
Meeting the Health Care Needs of Connecticut’s Future
- Making Way for More Students: Bioscience Connecticut calls for a 30 percent increase in the Schools of Medicine and Dental Medicine class sizes. Design work is now underway for the additions and renovations to the academic building that are necessary to accommodate this growth. All work is expected to be completed by 2017.
- And More Teachers: The Health Center expects to start recruiting new faculty to meet the demands of the increased class sizes this summer. The goal is to recruit 100 new faculty members, including clinician-scientists, basic scientists, and clinicians. The added brainpower will allow the Health Center to increase access to services and to double federal and industry research awards.
- Meeting Needs in the Community: Bioscience Connecticut funded a series of community-based initiatives that are linked to the University and are aimed at addressing and solving pressing health care needs. Progress has been made in many areas, including the maturation of the Connecticut Institute for Primary Care Innovation, a joint effort of the UConn School of Medicine and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and the Health Disparities Institute, which is a collaborative effort among community leaders, the University, the Health Center, and others.
Improving Access to State-of-the-Art Health Care in Connecticut
- New Outpatient Care Building: In partnership with private financing from TIAA-CREF, work is underway on the lower campus to build a new, 300,000 square-foot outpatient care center that will house many of the Health Center’s services including primary care, the Center on Aging, the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a range of specialty services. The building is designed to foster collaboration across medical specialties and will provide a modern, state-of-the-art patient experience. The building will include a connected parking garage. The 1,400-space garage is expected to be completed by year’s end and the building is scheduled to open in early 2015. To date, the precast concrete sections of the garage are being assembled and the steel structure is being erected. The exterior wall construction will begin in the fall.
- New Hospital Tower: The completion in April 2013 of the Health Center’s new parking garage near its main entrance enabled work to begin on the new hospital tower. The tower will rise from space that was originally a tiered parking deck. Construction crews are demolishing the tiered parking structure and work is beginning on the new hospital and its adjoining parking garage. Once completed in early 2016, the hospital tower will include 11 floors, 169 private rooms, a new and expanded emergency department, new surgery suite, and a new inpatient rehab center.
- Renovations to Main Building/Clinical Areas: This project is in its early stages. Planning and programming work to develop a master plan for the renovations is underway. Renovations will upgrade the dental practice and clinics as well as the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center.
Bioscience Connecticut Fast Facts
- With only 8 percent of the project budget allocated, construction workers have expended nearly 126,000 hours on the project.
- To date, 62 construction contracts have been awarded – 85 percent of them to Connecticut companies.
- The Health Center has awarded more than $116 million in contracts; approximately 38 percent of this was awarded to small businesses and minority‐owned companies.
- The construction and renovation projects will cover more than 1.1 million square feet of space over eight years.
- In the end, the Health Center’s Farmington campus will have three new parking structures, a new hospital tower, an incubator lab addition, a new outpatient care building, and renovations to the existing hospital, clinic, academic, and main research buildings.
- All projects are on time and on budget.