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DETROIT-TechTown, the research and technology incubator park created by Wayne State University near its campus in Detroit, marked its first anniversary recently, celebrating the success so far and looking ahead to more activity.

“I can only marvel at the progress we’ve made in just one year,” says Howard Bell, TechTown’s executive director. In just a year’s time, TechTown went from an empty five-story building to 11 tenants employing more than 80 people.

Also in the past year, nonprofit corporation NextEnergy completed a 45,000-sf, $15 million headquarters across the street from TechOne–what is planned to be the first of several buildings that will make up TechTown. NextEnergy’s Microgrid Power Pavilion, an on-site power generation plant, uses the facility as a test bed that houses multiple power-generated technologies fueled by hydrogen and natural gas. Entrepreneurs have the ability to lease cubicles, offices and laboratories without looking for property that may otherwise be too expensive.

“Moving forward, we are looking for greater collaboration between NextEnergy, the University and TechTown,” says Wayne State University’s President Irvin D. Reid, who also serves as chairman of TechTown. “We are also looking for more development from the New Center, and hopefully retailing will emerge in these buildings as we go from phase two to phase three.”

TechOne was never intended to become a home for businesses but a transition and a transformation center for each business, Reid says. “Many businesses would not be able to do this without some kind of incubation, which TechTown provides,” he says.

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