HISTORIC DAY: Virginia Tech Innovation Campus key to Virginia attracting Amazon HQ2
University will partner with Alexandria on $1 billion project
November 13, 2018
Virginia emerged as a winner in the fierce, nationwide competition to house a headquarters for Amazon. The commonwealth stepped up with a standout higher education package, including a new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, which will be located less than two miles from Amazon’s new location in Arlington.
Virginia Tech's historic commitment to build a revolutionary, 1 million-square-foot graduate campus is the centerpiece of plans that will drive technology education and research, serve high-tech disciplines of the future, and transform the commonwealth's innovation economy.
When fully realized, the $1 billion Innovation Campus, which includes state support, will spark discoveries and help fill immense demand for high-tech talent in the greater Washington, D.C., area and beyond. The Commonwealth of Virginia and Virginia Tech have committed to provide $250 million each to seed the project.
The campus will bring together hundreds of new graduate students, dozens of new faculty members, and numerous industry partners. As part of its plan to increase undergraduate enrollment to 30,000 students, Virginia Tech also will increase undergraduate enrollment by 2,000 students in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, and related disciplines at its Blacksburg campus over the next eight years.
More than 200 localities across the country competed to win Amazon’s HQ2 and its estimated 50,000 jobs — a competition that ended today when the company announced its plans. The company credited the Innovation Campus in Alexandria as a key component in its decision to locate in Northern Virginia.
“Launching the Innovation Campus is a watershed moment for Virginia Tech and a great day for the commonwealth we are committed to serve,” university President Tim Sands said. “As the land-grant research institution, we stepped up to claim our role of driving economic development by leveraging our strengths in technology and engineering and building on our strong partnerships in Washington, D.C. The Innovation Campus will bring together the highest-caliber students, world-class faculty, smart ideas, and forward-thinking companies. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Virginia Tech to grow. All areas of our university will benefit.”
A winning proposal
In the greater Washington, D.C., region, both the private and public sectors already are clamoring for high-tech expertise.
The Innovation Campus will be located on U.S. Route 1 at National Landing in Alexandria near Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has entered into an memorandum of understanding with Stonebridge Associates Inc. and the City of Alexandria to expedite construction. The campus will be located in the Alexandria portion of National Landing, on land owned by investment firm Blackstone Group LP’s real estate fund. The land, commonly referred to as Oakville Triangle, will be developed by Stonebridge.
“This is a great example of higher education, the public sector, and the private sector working together to create jobs and new investment in Virginia,” said Del. Kirk Cox, speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates. “Amazon and the new Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will contribute to an already vibrant regional economy and solidify Virginia’s position as the talent capital of the world.“
Del. Chris Jones, chairman of Virginia’s House Appropriations Committee, said Virginia Tech’s team played a leading role in creating the broad higher education package that helped Northern Virginia stand out among the localities trying to attract Amazon. “The Innovation Campus is critical to building a pipeline of talent for the state’s growing technology economy,” he added.
The Innovation Campus’s funding model also calls for private philanthropy, industry partnerships, research expenditures, and other revenue streams generated through innovative, shared spaces on the campus.
“Research universities like Virginia Tech have tremendous potential to bring together students, researchers, industry, and leading technology professionals in new and creative ways,” said Charlie Phlegar, Virginia Tech’s vice president for advancement. “We live in a fast-paced and demanding world. To keep pace, universities have to be willing to evolve. We look forward to engaging the many partners who will help us make the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus a transformative initiative.”
In his former role at Cornell University’s chief fundraiser, Phlegar served on the Cornell Tech Steering Committee that secured the winning bid to build a new campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island.
The Virginia Tech Innovation Campus will triple the university’s footprint in Northern Virginia and will be a magnet for leading tech talent, research, and education. It will include:
- 300,000 square feet of academic space and cutting-edge research-and -development facilities.
- 250,000 square feet of partner space dedicated to startups and corporate facilities.
- 350,000 square feet of housing space for students and faculty.
- 100,000 square feet of retail and support spaces.
“Today is a historic day for the commonwealth,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). “The Innovation Campus will transform Virginia’s high-tech economy while also providing a pipeline of talent to industry all over Virginia, including Amazon. Once fully launched, it will benefit educational institutions and regions across the commonwealth.”