BY JAN WONDRA
Centennial-based Innovation Pavilion, which bills itself as an “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” is doing more than provide a single base to birth new technology businesses—it’s rolling its innovative campus and entrepreneurial-hub model out in suburban cities across the United States.
In August, the firm announced the expansion of its campus concept to Joliet, Ill. and it has now announced a similar agreement with Florence, Ariz.
“IP is most excited at this opportunity of working with the progressive political and administrative leadership of Florence who are on the path of building the city of the future,” said Vic Ahmed, the founder and CEO of Innovation Pavilion who has been preparing to fulfill the grand vision of developing innovation campuses and entrepreneurial hubs for the past several years.
The times, it seems, are ripe for expansion. As a part of each campus agreement, Innovation Pavilion will follow a development path that includes convening local stakeholders and conducting an innovation analysis of each suburban area to assess its strengths and identify tech-opportunity areas. The IP formula calls for development of mixed-use innovation campuses in partnership with city and county officials and real estate developers.
“We form a public-private partnership to develop the campuses,” said Kerianne Leffew, whose title at IP is “chief millennial.” Describing the launch process that follows a city signing a development contract with IP she said, “The city identifies plots of land for the innovation-campus setting. Usually, it’s in a downtown revitalization area. We think of it as a 21st-century kind of development. We create a campus setting with three distinct parts. It’s layered with innovation services, it encourages best practices, and it is saturated within a transformational educational setting.”
The vision of connected innovation pavilions spread across the United States took root more than 10 years ago when Ahmed launched IP’s Centennial headquarters. From the beginning, Ahmed has maintained close connections to blossoming technology areas and to venture-capital resources as an important component of success.
His close connections to Silicon Valley were noted by public officials. Mayors and governors began to call upon him to introduce Colorado companies to Silicon Valley and its venture-capital leaders. In the past few years, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Gov. John Hickenlooper have made multiple trips with Ahmed to Silicon Valley and called upon him to help promote new Colorado tech businesses, 18 of which were highlighted in the recent Colorado Day in Silicon Valley.
Cities and counties, recognizing the role of new tech companies to the long-term economic health of their regions, are downright exuberant about the creation of innovation campuses. The Florence Town Council unanimously approved the development proposal. The rigorous IP infrastructure development in that city will include hiring a community project manager to coordinate the pre-development efforts.
“The Town of Florence is incredibly excited for this partnership and can’t wait to be a part of the future partnerships that will be derived from this incredible opportunity,” said Florence Town Manager Brent Billingsley.
Pinal County Manager Greg Stanley expressed similar sentiments about the campus to be located in Florence.
“Pinal County looks forward to watching Innovation Pavilion grow and develop. We thank the town for allowing us to partner in this exciting development,” he said.
The Innovation Pavilion’s grand vision of developing innovation campuses and entrepreneurial hubs in suburban cities across the United States is gaining ground. At press time the Innovation Pavilion had just signed campus agreements with Parker and Olathe, Kan.
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