Abbott's satellite research and development facility at the Research Park sparked new energy into a strong relationship between the global health care company and its home state's flagship university. Because the center has been a success, Abbott decided to expand its Research Park operation just two years after opening and locate to a larger space in mid-2011.
"The entrepreneurial environment and up-close access to cutting-edge nutrition science and technology fuels product development while providing many other benefits," said Wayne Wargo, site director. "First, the Research Park strengthens our relationship with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, building upon our joint innovation and research. Second, we have targeted access to faculty expertise and facilities. Finally, it provides access to high caliber talent to meet current and future needs."
"Innovation is the lifeblood of Abbott Nutrition and our alliance with the Research Park challenges us to think differently about both our products and our processes," said Dr. Robert H. Miller, divisional vice president, R&D and Scientific Affairs, Abbott Nutrition. "The aging of the global population and our expansion into emerging markets require us to be faster and smarter at product development. This partnership both challenges our research and development while growing our innovations."
The focus of Abbott's Research Park facility is nutrition product development for all stages of life, from pregnancy to elder care. Abbott recruits highly-skilled food science and human nutrition graduate students to work on a wide range of nutrition-related projects, including preliminary research, topic evaluation and increasing awareness of the best practices in nutrition science.
Abbott's Global Pharmaceutical Operations also employs students to work on data analysis projects.
The site also provides a strong recruitment pipeline of talented potential employees for Abbott, which is headquartered north of Chicago. About 1,000 of Abbott's more than 80,000 global employees are University of Illinois alumni.
"What sets the University of Illinois graduates apart is they are not only accomplished in their fields of study, but in business-critical skills, such as creative problem solving, innovative thinking, and social responsibility," Wargo said. "These are attributes Abbott seeks in all of its employees."
Since opening in the Research Park in mid-2009, Abbott has been deeply engaged with broader campus research efforts. Abbott is a member of the School of Chemistry Science's Corporate Partnership Program and an industry partner of the Center for Agricultural, Biomedical, and Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, a NSF-sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center.
Abbott has shown its commitment to the Park by actively helping other tenants. Most recently, Abbott made a generous donation of equipment that is now available to startup companies through the shared lab equipment facilities located at the EnterpriseWorks incubator.
"Our commitment to the Research Park goes well beyond our own business needs," Wargo said. "Through our support of EnterpriseWorks, we feed the next generation of scientific research."