EDA investments boost life sciences and technology at KU Innovation Park

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This summer, officials held the grand opening of Phase III of the KU Innovation Park, which was supported by a $7.8 million EDA investment.

Lawrence, Kansas is already the standard center of our planet on Google Earth. Now, with EDA support, it will also serve as the state’s center for life sciences and technology.

This summer, officials held the grand opening for Phase III of the KU Innovation Park, a new 66,000-square-foot building that includes wet lab and office space. The facility was completed through a $7.8 million investment under EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance funded by the 2019 Disaster Allowance.

“There isn’t a lot of wet lab space in the region. Development is expensive, and if a company wanted to grow, it usually had to leave the region,” said Adam Courtney, chief financial officer. “Our facility fills that gap and we continue to see high demand for the space.”

Formerly the Bioscience Technology Business Center, the KU Innovation Park was founded in 2010 by four stakeholders: the City of Lawrence, Douglas County, the University of Kansas, and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. His goal is to create, recruit, grow and retain life science companies that create jobs and wealth in the region and state.

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The Phase III building in the KU Innovation Park has coveted wet laboratory space.

“Before these institutions, our local economy was mainly based around public sector, university and service industry jobs. These institutions will help diversify our economy by creating more jobs in technology, research, science and business. They’ll also make it more resilient,” Courtney said.

The Phase III building will house 12 companies and officials expect it to be fully booked by the end of 2022. Many of the companies are graduating from the park’s incubator building to Phase II, including those focused on vaccine development, radar sensors, drone technology, and cybersecurity.

“Phase III is an extension for many of our companies. They have outgrown their current premises and facilities and now require additional resources,” Courtney said. “As existing companies move into the new premises, the main building will be free to allow new startups to grow and develop.”

The innovation park is also extending its support for business services to start-up companies and adding a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) laboratory for small-scale pilot manufacturing. Additionally, thanks to a $1.5 million EDA investment in Build to Scale, officials are adding a new accelerator suite program and space for additional startup companies.

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KU Innovation Park has a network of 63 current and graduate companies that have created 590 jobs and $36 million in salaries.

“Our goal is to meet businesses where they are and give them the level of service or services they need at that time,” Courtney said.

KU Innovation Park has a network of 63 current and graduate companies that have created 590 jobs and $36 million in salaries.

“For us, a successful graduate company means keeping the company in the region or state, and most of our companies have done that. We’re really trying to help these companies put down roots and strengthen the regional and state economies,” Courtney said.

Officials are already planning future phases based on the park’s growth, development and demand.

“As we look back at what we’ve done, we believe we can continue to thrive and experience this compound growth over the next 15 years. Our goal is to construct 10 buildings and 800,000 square feet of space, which would create up to 4,000 jobs,” Courtney said.

Keywords: innovation & entrepreneurship


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