Overland Park Kansas taxpayers are beating the markets with their return on investments in life sciences and related endeavors, Kansas Bioscience Authority officials said Monday.
“We’re receiving $5 for every $1 invested,” reported Jan Katterhenry, chief financial officer, during the organization’s annual meeting at the Overland Park Convention Center.
The bottom-line financials drew smiles from board members — both for what the numbers mean now and what influence such returns might carry into the future.
“My money market is not doing quite that well,” said former Kansas Gov. John Carlin, elected minutes earlier as the authority’s chairman. “As this financial squeeze continues, the stronger evidence we have of results, the better position we’ll be in with the legislature.”
Carlin and fellow board members plan to gather Tuesday morning to review and likely approve an operational plan for the 2010 year, aiming to build on momentum that has built ever since the state created the authority as part of the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004.
The act allows the state to invest an anticipated $581 million over 15 years into creating bioscience jobs, expanding bioscience research and industry, and attracting bioscience investments.
To date, Katterhenry said, the authority has spent $26.6 million through grants, investments and other transactions to generate $144.2 million in direct spending in Kansas — through new research dollars, equity investments and capital spending.
The total — a return of $5.41 for every $1 invested — doesn’t include the 1,100 jobs created or the ancillary spending that otherwise comes from spinning off university research, spurring existing companies to expand or new ones to locate in the state.
Sandra Lawrence, who remains on the board after closing out her two-year term as chair Monday, said after the meeting that the state would continue to reap rewards from the authority’s investments for years to come.
Authority-supported efforts poised for success, she said, include Kansas University’s pursuit of National Cancer Institute designation; establishment of the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan; and a focus on converting university and other research into commercial applications.
“We’re not just building a house anymore,” said Lawrence, who is a vice president and chief financial officer of Children’s Mercy Hospitals & Clinics. “We’re starting to get it furnished, and everything’s starting to fall into place.”
• The authority’s Investment Committee agreed to spend $10,000 to for an external evaluation of Rakesh Srivistava, a professor of biochemistry and medicine at the University of Texas’ Health Science Center in Tyler, Texas, who would be hired at the KU Cancer Center and be a participant in the authority’s Eminent Scholar program. Srivistava is considered an expert in the development of cancer drugs, and would bring with him an existing portfolio funding from the National Institutes of Health.
• Board members welcomed a new staff member: Brad Kemp, a Lawrence resident recently hired as director of the authority’s Cancer Fighting Cures initiative, an effort to bring cutting-edge cancer treatments closer to home for thousands of Kansans through clinical trials and other efforts. The effort includes the KU Cancer Center and other providers in the state.
The authority also welcomed about 150 stakeholders during an evening reception, drawing business leaders, researchers, lawmakers and others who have supported the authority’s work and continue to do so.
Among them was Steve Warren, KU vice provost for research and graduate studies, who expects the authority to eventually pump as much as $100 million or $150 million into KU research efforts.
“You’ve got to invest to create the economy of the future,” said Warren, who expects the financial return to be at least $1 billion to $1.5 billion. “If the Midwest, and Kansas specifically, is to be a player in the world economy in new areas, you need to invest.”