Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bioscience incubator generates interest

An artist's rendering of the proposed Lawrence Regional Life Sciences Incubator

An artist's rendering of the proposed Lawrence Regional Life Sciences Incubator

June 18, 2008


City considers new life sciences center

This afternoon city and county commissioners were pitched a $4 million plan to build a new center for promising life sciences companies. Enlarge video

Economic development leaders Tuesday evening unveiled an $8 million plan to build a life sciences incubator facility on Kansas University's West Campus to attract promising high-tech start-up companies.

City and county commissioners at a joint study session said they were interested in committing a total of $1.5 million to the project during the next 10 years.

The goal of the proposed facility - planned for a West Campus location right across the street from the university's new Multidisciplinary Research Building - is to allow start-up companies using KU research to locate in Lawrence.

"I certainly see promising technology developed at KU get exported outside this county, outside this state, and somebody else gets to capitalize off its success," said Matt McClorey, president of the Lawrence Regional Technology Center. "Does this guarantee that we will capitalize off of every research opportunity at KU? No, but it does give us the opportunity to tell these researchers that you can do this locally."

The proposed deal would require the city and county to each provide the incubator with $75,000 per year for 10 years. Kansas University would provide the land for the incubator and $1.5 million in cash during a three- to four-year period. The Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority would provide $500,000. Economic development leaders are optimistic that the remaining $4 million would be provided by the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

The incubator would be a 20,000-square-foot building that would provide both office space and lab space for start-up companies that are in the drug development field and other life-science arenas.

The building - which could be expanded to 40,000 square feet - would be owned by the local bioscience authority, and day-to-day management would be contracted to McClorey's Lawrence Regional Technology Center. That nonprofit organization provides business consulting and management services for start-up technology companies.

McClorey said the goal is to have the incubator facility operating by the spring of 2010. Within five years, the incubator is estimated to be self-sustaining through rents paid by tenants.

Elected leaders generally were positive about the concept, and agreed to put it on their commissions' agendas for formal action within the next 30 to 45 days.

Several commissioners said that they believed the project would allow the city to really target businesses that can benefit from being close to KU.

"It does seem like it is worth looking at," said City Commissioner Rob Chestnut. "I wonder if our lack of economic development has been because we're not leveraging our resources at KU."

Commissioners also said they believed Lawrence would have better luck in keeping start-up companies in Lawrence than the community has in attracting outside companies to locate in the city.

But County Commissioner Charles Jones said it would be important for the city and county to move ahead on a larger scale business park to house companies that grow out of the incubator space.

"I believe fully that if we don't make plans for the back end of this, we'll have an incubator facility that will do a great job of sending companies to Olathe or the Sunflower area or somewhere else in Johnson County," Jones said.

The $75,000 per year investment that the city and county would make in the project would be in addition to $200,000 per year that the two commissions already are providing to the local bioscience authority. Over 10 years, that commitment would provide the bioscience authority with about $4 million. The local authority is proposing to use $500,000 of that $4 million amount for the incubator project, leaving the rest for other future projects.


Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

This project will bring zero property tax and sales tax dollars to Lawrence. It might bring big salaries, probably paid by the university or some association.If this is the direction Lawrence leaders are headed, they should consider transitioning from a reliance upon property taxes to a city income tax.

Godot 9 years, 11 months ago

not-holroyd apparently needs remedial reading comprehension classes. I've held off pointing that out for quite some time, out of compassion and generosity, but obviously that has not helped poor not-holroyd.The city should seriously consider implementing an income tax on all money earned by employees working in Lawrence, and all Lawrence citizens, whether or not they work in Lawrence. As a bedroom community whose largest industry is government that does not pay sales or property tax, that is the most logical way to raise revenue.

Aiko 9 years, 11 months ago

LRTC is a joke! I know for a fact that a software company in the basement of LRTC hires 75% of its employees from China. Outsourcing software developers does not keep jobs in this area, it only saves money for the owners and/or controllers. How is that for your tax paying dollars?What does LRTC mean by Regional?

1lawrenceresident 9 years, 11 months ago

These are private companies. Therefore, any salaries created result in an expanded local tax base. That means sales and property taxes. These employees are not "paid by the university or associations." It's true that property taxes aren't paid on the building. However, since it's KU campus, how much property tax would be paid if the building wasn't there at all?

realblonde 9 years, 11 months ago

How does this compare with or work with the other bioscience project that the Chamber announced last year?Is that generating any action? Has anything actually come of it yet?Will these two projects work together? Will companies graduate from the incubator to the building in East Hills?

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