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Sense of Place

Binghamton University builds the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator

University Business, October 2017
  • SUSTAINABLE SPOTLIGHT—The incubator’s design incorporates natural lighting, and occupancy sensors are used to help save energy. The building location and exterior provide for optimal solar orientation.
  • SUSTAINABLE SPOTLIGHT—The incubator’s design incorporates natural lighting, and occupancy sensors are used to help save energy. The building location and exterior provide for optimal solar orientation.

Binghamton University, which serves more than 17,500 students, has extended its reach to the business sector with the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator, a supportive environment for entrepreneurs and startup companies located in the heart of the city.

CHALLENGE: For decades, the university and surrounding Broome County community benefited from the business generated by corporate giant IBM. Many new enterprises were either IBM spinoffs or part of its supply chain. But then IBM abruptly left in the 1990s.

“It was a knock-out punch,” says President Harvey Stenger of Binghamton University. “We couldn’t just hope that IBM would come back and repopulate the community, so we decided to create an incubator that would put an emphasis on health, energy and biotechnology.”

SOLUTION: The 35,000-square-foot facility contains offices, common areas, co-working spaces and high-tech labs. The incubator provides startup companies with financial, legal and regulatory services.

Entrepreneurs benefit from its workshops, seminars, mixers and mentoring programs, and have access to the university-based workforce and university-owned facilities.

Sustainability features include a solar ventilation air preheating wall. Permeable paving reduces runoff, and stormwater is stored in bio-retention ponds.

As of early September, 35 out of 45 available co-working spaces were leased. These include two 170- to 200-square-foot offices, 14 smaller offices, eight 300-square-foot dry labs, one 337 square-foot wet lab and one 1,500 square-foot lab.

Four 110- to 130-square-foot administrative offices and one three-company dry lab were leased for program activities.

One 1,370-square-foot business suite was leased by a small business development center.

“When you put a high-tech facility right in the center of a city, you positively change the neighborhood,” says Stenger. “A single university can really make a difference by making a few small investments.”

COMPLETED: June 2017

COST: $19 million

PROJECT TEAM: Building designer: Ashley McGraw Architects (Syracuse, New York); general contractor: Fahs Construction Group (Binghamton, New York)

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