The Association of University Research Parks (AURP) is looking to create communities of innovation across the globe—and with help from longtime University of Maryland administrator Brian Darmody, AURP may soon point to College Park as its prime example.
The association recently opened its new office – dubbed AURP HQ2 – at the Discovery District, a research park that includes the University of Maryland, College Park, one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. The Discovery District aspires to be the epicenter of academic, economic, and research achievements in the region, and is located within a federal Opportunity Zone, providing incentives and tax benefits to those who invest in the area.
Selecting College Park for its new location was a natural fit for AURP’s mission. In addition to hosting the 2018 AURP International Conference, the university encompasses everything needed for a modern, successful research park. From the Capital One Tech Incubator, to the Leidos Innovation Lab, to a new co-working space and hotel, the campus is a research hub leading by example.
“A lot of universities are now building mini research parks for startups and companies…it’s a mixed-use kind of enterprise on campus and throughout the area,” said Brian Darmody, recently named the new chief executive officer at AURP. “What you see here at College Park, I see across the Baltimore-Washington corridor and across the country.”
With mixed-use properties popping up all across the country, Darmody tells us there are plenty of global visitors looking to visit the United States and tour science and research parks. With easy access from multiple regional airports, plus the ability to develop research partnerships at UMD, AURP’s East Coast hub could be the perfect place for visitors to start.
The College Park office is located in the new WeWork space—the first in Maryland and the first located at a university. The co-working facility allows companies to do soft landings in Maryland, lets visitors take advantage of the new UMD hotel, and do a test run of working and living in the region. There are similar spaces across the country, but College Park’s position provides opportune access to the nation’s capital, federal labs, international representatives, and more.
“It’s a bonus to have this AURP office in Maryland,” said Darmody. “It’s all about the convenient location. We have access to embassies, trade offices, and national and international leaders—and visitors can see Maryland along the way.”
“We also have the region’s largest research park – with the largest research university – with more STEM graduates than anyone in the DMV,” he continued. “Having the park is great to show visitors coming into the area…It gives them an idea of what universities can look like across the country.”
AURP currently has 300 members throughout the globe, including five innovation communities here in Maryland: University of Maryland, College Park; UM BioPark; bwtech@UMBC, Montgomery College, and Viva White Oak. And over the past five years, College Park and the BioPark have both been named AURP’s annual Outstanding Research Park, with more potentially on the way now that AURP has made its mark in Maryland.
For now, AURP’s focus remains fostering innovation, commercialization, and economic growth throughout the world—with Maryland playing a key part in moving that goal forward.
“We believe College Park can become a global point of entry for groups touring the country…for companies, universities, and visitors who want to learn about the secret sauce of communities of innovation in the US,” said Darmody. “And we want AURP to be part of that message.”