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When Worlds Collide

The intersection of academia and industry in Cincinnati now has a new address: 2900 Reading Rd. That’s where you’ll find the University of Cincinnati’s new front door to the community — the 1819 Innovation Hub.

Named for the year of UC’s founding, the 1819 Innovation Hub occupies a structure built in 1929 that once housed a Sears, Roebeck & Co. department store and later the home to UC Campus Services. But make no mistake: UC’s $38 million investment in the renovation of the cavernous, 133,000-square-foot building signals that the 1819 Innovation Hub is all about UC’s future.

“We want to create an innovative environment that allows our students to engage with industry, with not-for-profits, with faculty and with other students. Let this be the place where magic occurs,” says David Adams, CEO of the UC Research Institute.

Adams, the former CEO of the University of Louisville’s Institute for Product Realization, recently took their reins of UCRI. He also now serves as UC’s chief innovation officer and reports directly to UC President Neville Pinto. Adams and Pinto are already well aquainted, as Pinto hired Adams during the former’s tenure as UofL interim president.

Adams envisions the 1819 Innovation Hub becoming a creative supercollider, with students, faculty and businesspeople from multiple disciplines working together to develop creative solutions to problems. “The vision is to make this as school-agnostic as possible,” says Adams. “The real power of this is having engineering students colliding with DAAP students, colliding with nursing students, colliding with business school students — how it occurs in the world that they’re going to get involved in — what kind of magic can occur because of the collisions that occur there?”

Adams is no stranger to that kind of magic. His run at UofL’s institute was highlighted by a partnership with GE Appliances, culminating in the latter’s creation of the FirstBuild microfactory and makerspace on UofL’s campus. Adams sees UC’s 1819 Innovation Hub serving as the place where similar collaborations between UC and the Cincinnati business community will be catalyzed.

Decisions are still being made on the final layout of each of the first three floors of the building, but some features have already been determined. The first floor will house a 12,000-square-foot makerspace, where tools for creators of all skill levels — including hand tools, 3-D printers, laser cutters and CNC machines — will be available for use. The second floor’s main features will include several classrooms, conference rooms and a multipurpose space capable of accommodating up to 150 guests, making it the primary gathering area of the building

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By Matt Koesters
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Photos by Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

Oct 31, 2017