Developing Public-Private Research Partnerships Through Medium-Scale Testing

Omar Bailey, Bailey Edward

The public-private research partnerships between academia and corporations can be a tricky one, as researchers make scientific breakthroughs, yet from a business standpoint, corporations need assurances to put these new techniques into full scale operations. It can be a time consuming and economically inefficient practice to bring smaller laboratory facility techniques into commercial success. However, on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's (UIUC) Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Studies (ACES) campus, the new Integrated Bio-Processing Research Laboratory (IBRL) is designed to facilitate this relationship and ease the process of bringing the laboratory's innovation discoveries to the production level.

IBRL will be a 40,000 SF facility that houses research, classrooms, administrative and teaching space, and analytical laboratories including biotechnology, fermenting, corn milling and soybean processing. What sets the design of this facility apart is the scale of the laboratory which supports research at each step in the bioenergy value chain. This medium-sized facility fills the production gap and allows academic and corporate research to move from lab bench research discoveries to commercial production while lessening the cost of developing efficient strategies for the production of renewable bio-based products.

The two-story processing space fosters pilot agricultural research and wide-ranging technologies. Supported by a wide range of equipment, the laboratory accommodates analysis, deconstruction, fermentation, thermochemical processes, co-product evaluation and the optimization of cellulosic material into energy. IBRL will be one of two North American flexible, plug-and-play pilot plants and analytical laboratories - the first delivered through a design-build methodology - that will bring faculty, students, and private industry together to shorten the time-frame and lessen the cost of developing efficient and economical strategies for the production of renewable bio-based products.

Our presentation will present IBRL as a case study examining the key elements unique to a pilot plant focused on developing public-private research partnerships:

  • Incorporating medium-scale testing of research concepts
  • Maintaining secrecy of research concepts
  • Managing the heavy ventilation demand of pilot equipment
  • Creation of "front-house" image to attract corporate research partners
  • Creating custom flexible research environments that can adapt to high utility demand requirements
  • Learning Objectives

    • Understand the impact of medium-scale testing
    • Assess the implications of public-private research partnerships
    • Balance the need for flexible spaces with high-demand equipment
    • Implement strategies to attract corporate research partners


    A licensed architect and associate principal at Bailey Edward, an architecture, engineering and construction management firm, Omar specializes in higher education projects with laboratory work that spans across the Midwest. Omar manages his firm's retainer contracts for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is leading his third retainer contract for Argonne National Laboratory. Omar is engaged in designing spaces that incorporate flexibility and sustainability with precise and demanding equipment.


    Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).