IDEA Commons: MSU’s Urban Innovation Park

IDEA Commons is Missouri State University's vision and commitment to create an urban innovation park that is blended with residential, retail, commercial and entertainment facilities, and supported by multidisciplinary University programs. This unique project brings together the elements of Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship and Arts (IDEA) and is an example of how the University continues to be engaged in promoting the community's livability and economic success.

Five major goals will guide the ongoing development of IDEA Commons:

  • Create training, education and career opportunities for Missouri State University students and graduates
  • Expand opportunities for business development and commercializing research
  • Develop University partnerships with entrepreneurs
  • Focus on domains where expertise exists and synergy can be exploited
  • Attract and retain creative, entrepreneurial human capital

University, private, state and federal grant funds are being used and sought to finance property acquisition, facility improvements, transit and other infrastructure improvements as well as the expansion of selected research and education programs.

Missouri State University has a long history of being a community partner in assisting in the revitalization of Springfield's center city area. Missouri State's commitment to downtown revitalization continues to evolve. Since 2007, the University has invested in three major activities that have become the core of the University's vision for IDEA Commons: Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC), Brick City and the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development. JVIC is a major advanced research and manufacturing facility sited in a renovated brownfield facility in the center city. The mission of JVIC is to develop new products, create jobs and develop the educated workforce necessary to attract and retain advance manufacturing and life sciences companies in Missouri. Brick City houses the University's art and design department and is located in a former refrigerated warehouse complex. Renovation of the facility housing the Robert W. Plaster Center for Free Enterprise and Business Development began in December 2009. The 120,000-square-foot facility was formerly a poultry processing plant located adjacent to JVIC. When completed, this facility will house a business incubator, Springfield Innovation, Inc., and other entities and agencies that support small business development and expansion.

These key facilities are the building blocks for IDEA Commons. It is anticipated that IDEA Commons will encourage the expansion of the arts; expand opportunities for business development by providing accelerator/incubator space for technology commercialization; develop capacity for the University to form partnerships with entrepreneurs; and, attract and retain creative, entrepreneurial human capital.

Missouri State University has purchased a number of brownfield properties in downtown Springfield for the purpose of expanding IDEA Commons. Physically, IDEA Commons is anticipated to grow to an 88-acre research and innovation park. What makes it unique among other such parks is that it is in an urban neighborhood supporting academic programs, research projects and University-private company partnerships in various interrelated areas.