Leaders behind plans for a new technology incubator on Kansas University’s West Campus toured the future site of the facility on Friday, and said the project would progress even if a key piece of economic development funding is lost at the state level.
But members of the Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Authority said they are watching closely whether the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. continues to receive funding from the state.
KTEC is not directly providing funding to build the $7.25 million life sciences incubator on West Campus. But the KTEC does provide about 60 percent of the funding — or about $300,000 — for the Lawrence Regional Technology Center. LRTC is the group that has been chosen to run the new incubator and to provide business consulting services for the incubator’s tenants.
But LaVerne Epp, president of the Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Authority, said a loss of KTEC funding would not jeopardize the completion of the incubator.
“We’re considering several options if that happens,” said Epp, who said he was optimistic that funding for KTEC would be maintained. “But if it does happen, we won’t let it slow us down.”
The 20,000-square-foot incubator is designed to provide lab and office space for promising startup companies that spin out of life science research under way at KU.
KTEC, an organization designed to promote growth of the state’s high technology business sector, has come under fire from legislators who have said the organization isn’t transparent enough. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed funding for KTEC in the state’s new budget, but KTEC leaders are lobbying lawmakers to restore the funding.
On Friday, a group of about 10 city, county, state and university partners in the project toured the site of the planned incubator. The property is just north of KU’s new Multidisciplinary Research Building. It also is near KU’s Structural Biology Center and the planned site for a new pharmacy school building.
Matt McClorey, president and CEO of the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, said an architect to design the new incubator should be selected in the next two weeks. Construction is expected to begin in early fall, with completion in fall 2010.
The project is being funded, in part, by a $3.25 million grant from the Kansas Bioscience Authority. The city, Douglas County, KU and Kansas University Endowment are providing additional funding for the project.