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NU plans $75 million tech accelerator project downtown

Will house startups in synthetic biology, nanotechnology and flexible materials.

NU's 1801 Maple Ave. building that's to be renovated for the technology accelerator project. (NU photo)

Northwestern University Thursday announced plans for a $75 million renovation of its lab and office building at 1801 Maple Ave. in downtown Evanston.

The project is described by the school as a technology accelerator to support startup companies led by NU faculty in health, life sciences and related fields.

The Illinois General Assembly appropriated $50 million for the project as part of the state’s 2022 capital budget. NU trustee Kimberly K. Querrey has made an $25 million gift toward the project, which will see the building named in her honor.

“This accelerator represents a transformative investment by the state and by one of Northwestern’s most generous donors, which will shine a spotlight on our cutting-edge research and innovation and help the university recruit top talent,” NU President Morton Schapiro said in a statement.

Materials scientists John Rogers and Mark Hersam will be the first to occupy the new space. NU says they will soon be joined by four additional early-stage startups in the fields of synthetic biology, nanotechnology and flexible materials.

Rogers, a MacArthur Fellow and a member of three National Academies (Science, Engineering and Medicine) as well as the National Academy of Inventors, is piloting Rhaeos, a company that has developed technology for use in the monitoring of ventricular shunt function in patients with hydrocephalus, a condition that causes a build-up of fluid on the brain.

Hersam, another MacArthur Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow and member of the National Academy of Inventors, is piloting Volexion, the developer of a graphene coating for lithium-ion batteries that dramatically increases their energy, cycle life and safety.

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