In the next two months, the fate of a proposed $8 million facility to house promising start-up technology companies in Lawrence should be decided.
The Kansas Bioscience Authority is expected to decide soon whether to invest about $4 million into the proposed incubator that would be built on Kansas University’s West Campus. At a meeting Tuesday of area bioscience stakeholders, the leader of the KBA stopped short of endorsing the project but said it was being given a serious look.
“We’re evaluating now whether it is something that the KBA will invest in,” Tom Thornton, president and CEO of the authority told a crowd of Lawrence bioscience leaders at a Kansas University event. “What we like about it is that KU is on board and the community is on board.”
City and county commissioners, along with KU and the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority already have agreed to provide $4 million in funding for the incubator facility, which would be built on KU West Campus.
But the KBA funding is critical for the project to move forward. Matthew McClorey, president and CEO of the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, said he’s optimistic the project will get the necessary approvals. The facility would provide laboratory and office space for start-up companies that take Kansas University research and turn it into commercial products.
“We think this is a very important part of our effort to grow bioscience jobs in the community,” said McClorey, whose organization would run the center. “We don’t want Lawrence just to be an engine for innovation and research. We also want to keep some of those companies that use the research here in Lawrence.”
About 65 people on Tuesday attended a bioscience stakeholders event at the Lied Center sponsored by KU and the authority. In addition to the incubator project, Thornton alerted the crowd to the likelihood of the Kansas Legislature discussing during these tough economic times whether to tap into some of the funding set aside for the authority.
“I’m sure there will be action to come after KBA funding,” Thornton said. “We’ll see how that comes out. But I would say to pull back from this effort now would be shortsighted.”