Real Estate Developer Hopes to Attract Tenants with Web 2.0

Wexford Science and Technology, a Baltimore, MD-based real estate investment and development firm, hopes Web 2.0 will generate heightened interest in its new office park.

Located in Hershey, PA, the Hershey Center for Applied Research (HCAR), geared towards life sciences firms, offers office space, wet and dry labs, conference rooms and shared amenities through a nearby Medical Center.

A key differentiator for potential tenants may not be location or amenities, but KnowledgeMesh, a suite of Web 2.0 tool that Laura Butcher, HCAR’s Executive Director, hopes will spur innovation.

Developed by IntelMarx, KnowledgeMesh is an amalgamation of social networking tools including: personal profiles, social bookmarking, blogging software, cloud storage and a wiki. Product development and marketing has been funded by Wexford.

KnowledgeMesh organizes information around communities that are focused on research areas like oncology, clean technology, and nanotechnology. Content is generated by users.

It remains to be seen if KnowledgeMesh will catch on. Butcher reports that over 1300 users have created profiles – not a bad start. Though as someone who has spent a good amount of time working in media and even launching web 2.0 sites, I suspect KnowledgeMesh will face an uphill battle.

Butcher is aware of the potential for stagnation and hopes to attract “thought leaders” like investors who will entice others to join and contribute.

But with sites like Ning, LinkedIn, Facebook and others already fulfilling a need (and with significant market share) KnowledgeMesh will wrestle with the fact that it is a small player in a relatively closed niche; in my experience, the best contributors (bloggers especially) generally seek wider distribution and ownership of thoughts and ideas.

Will KnowledgeMesh accomplish its goal of fostering innovation? It’s easy to throw buzzwords around carelessly. The service could have a lot going for it, provided it attracts the requisite user base needed to generate value.

It’ll be interesting to see if Wexford’s investment pays off.

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