Guide to Campus Innovation Campus art

What is Nebraska Innovation Campus?

Located just a mile from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s City Campus, Nebraska Innovation Campus is the third branch of the university. According to the website, construction for Innovation Campus began in December 2012, with the goal of being “a campus designed to facilitate new and in-depth partnerships between the University of Nebraska and private sector businesses.” 

A growing list of more than 40 businesses and organizations are partnered or housed at Innovation Campus, allowing students to connect, intern or work with the businesses. These businesses range from agriculture — such as Epicrop Technologies, FarmAfield, JCA Technologies and CropX — to software development, such as Bolero Information Systems LLC. There is also a nine-station radio network, KRVN, that covers stories related to the campus’ partners, programs and events.

In addition to business space and a conference center, Innovation Campus is home to Nebraska Innovation Studio, the makerspace where “creators of all sorts can share ideas, tools and knowledge in a collaborative workspace,” according to the website. University faculty, students, staff and community members can join the studio for a monthly fee. In addition, members can participate in workshops and receive training on available machines. 

In October 2021, The Scarlet Hotel, a six-story, 154-room boutique hotel will also open on Innovation Campus. The hotel’s goal is to provide hands-on, real-world experience for students in the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management programs, according to its website. 

Although it is not fully finished, Innovation Campus is envisioned to be a 2.2-million square-foot campus, according to the website. In addition, it is expected that 5,000 people will work on the campus at full build out, one-third of which will be university employees, with two-thirds employed by private businesses.

How can students get involved? 

According to Kate Engel, director of strategic partnerships and communication for Innovation Campus, students can get involved right away, regardless of major. Below are some opportunities she wants students to be aware of.  

  • Students can become members of Nebraska Innovation Studio, the makerspace at NIC. 

  • Internships
    Several companies located at Nebraska Innovation Campus offer internships. A full list of companies located at NIC can be found here.

  • Classes
    The Food Innovation Center hosts classes for students taking courses in UNL’s Food Science and Technology Department. 

  • The Mill Coffee & Bistro
    According to the website, The Mill Coffee & Bistro at Innovation Campus offers signature coffees and teas. The coffee shop also offers breakfast and lunch items, as well as wine, craft beer and cocktails. 

  • Events & Programs
    According to Engel, many events and programs that take place at NIC are open to students and the university campus community. A complete list of events and programs can be found here.

Why should students know about NIC?

According to Engel, companies on Innovation Campus often look for talent and want to connect with UNL students. Taking part in activities happening on the campus will increase a student’s opportunity to connect with a possible future employer, Engel says. 

Daniel Duncan, deputy director at Innovation Campus, agrees, saying that Innovation Campus still has many goals for the future, most importantly connecting with the community. 

“We want to continue to grow NIC to provide opportunities for innovation,” Duncan said. “We want to enable a dynamic live-work-play environment that is interwoven into the community.” 

Whether you are visiting campus for the first time or having already been at UNL for a couple of years, Innovation Campus is an evolving and exciting part of the university that is worth the visit.