Topeka Gov. Mark Parkinson urged the Kansas Bioscience Authority to not let the $450 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility define its success.
“Make sure that NBAF isn’t the end of the KBA story, but that instead it is just the beginning,” he said.
Parkinson’s remarks were made to a roomful of KBA stakeholders — researchers, university officials, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs — who had gathered at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka on Monday night.
In reply, KBA President and CEO Tom Thornton laid out other projects in the works: providing financing to jump-start companies in the early stages of development; working with three centers intended to build industry clusters around areas of bioscience research in the state; and investing heavily in advancing the state’s cancer research.
For every dollar invested, the KBA has brought in a return of $7.59, Thornton said.
“It’s no longer a question of if we can pull this off,” he said. “It is how big is this going to get?”
The KBA board was a little less optimistic two hours earlier while reviewing the budget during its board of directors meeting.
Two weeks ago, Parkinson capped the amount that KBA will receive in 2011 to $35 million, the third year in a row that funding will remain flat. If the governor’s budget proposals pass in the Legislature, the KBA will see a 41 percent reduction — $72 million over three years — from what it had projected.
That amount worried some board members.
“If we don’t have the commitment from the partners in the state, it becomes difficult to do longer-term deals and become competitive in a larger scale,” board member Angela Kreps said.