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Science Trust inaugurates $7.1M Forward Center at Science City

The Puerto Rico Science, Technology, and Research Trust recently inaugurated the Forward Center, a $7.1 million, 30,000-square-foot facility in Science City, in San Juan.

Trust officials said the project “marks a significant milestone in advancing scientific and technological progress in Puerto Rico,” and is expected to create nearly 300 direct and indirect jobs.

Constructed to withstand natural disasters, the Forward Center will accommodate up to 40 startups and companies in science, technology and manufacturing, providing R&D spaces with advanced technology. Initial tenants include Smartweave and the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This project represents a significant milestone in our mission to promote scientific, research, academic, entrepreneurial and innovative progress in Puerto Rico,” stated Lucy Crespo, the trust’s CEO.

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the trust, the investment followed an 80/20 fund-matching arrangement to support projects that are economically impactful and aid recovery post-hurricanes Irma and María.

The EDA recognized the Forward Center as a successful case in grant allocation on the island.

“Collaborating with the efficiency and professionalism of the EDA has been an extremely positive experience, and this center will be crucial for small businesses and nongovernmental organizations, providing incubation and acceleration in key sectors such as information technology, aerospace and medical device development,” Crespo added.

Jorge Rigau Arquitectos, PSC, was in charge of constructing the Forward Center Building, which is a component of the 69-acre Science City.

“The trust is anchored in change, and this building had to be able to project itself into the future,” said Rigau. “There are plans that rise, fall, collide and intersect. They suggest the dynamism of science, conceived as an act of creativity. That’s what we had in mind when defining the facade and thinking about the activity that will be created within this space. All of this was at stake when conceiving how it should look.”

The building consists of three levels; the first is designated for medical device R&D with specialized labs and equipment to foster collaboration among researchers and health professionals. The second houses offices, training and conference rooms, while the third is an open space for entrepreneurs.

The Parallel18 program and its initiatives — P18, Pre18, Xpand and BioLeap — will also operate in this new space starting this summer.

“We celebrate these new facilities that will serve as a stage for new scientific projects. The Forward Center features space for the research and development of medical devices, as well as specialized laboratories that will be utilized by students, researchers and health care professionals,” said Manuel Cidre, secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish).

“It will also have a collaborative space aimed at entrepreneurs, which will benefit startups looking to venture into science, technology and manufacturing, as well as other key areas for the island’’s economic development such as the aerospace sector. Projects like this will put us on the map as competitors in the research sector, where we have great expertise and trained talent,” Cidre added.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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