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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.