Archive for Thursday, November 11, 2010

Olathe-based Garmin to open software office on KU’s West Campus

November 11, 2010


The latest set of directions on Garmin’s GPS units leads to Kansas University’s West Campus.

The leader of the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on KU’s West Campus confirmed Wednesday that Olathe-based Garmin Ltd. has signed a deal to open a software office in the incubator. The office is expected to open in January and will include 12 to 15 software employees.

“We’re thrilled to have them as a tenant here,” said Matt McClorey, director of the incubator and president of the Lawrence Regional Technology Center. “We’re excited that we have a facility they like.”

Garmin, which makes GPS technology devices, marks the fourth company to sign a lease in the center since it opened in August. McClorey said the center recently signed two other tenants: BrightEHR, an electronics health records company that is partially owned by Lawrence-based Bert Nash Mental Health Center; and Sunlite Science and Technology, a Lawrence company that makes specialty LED flashlights and is poised to enter the LED industrial lighting market.

The center previously confirmed Dublin-Ireland based Propylon Inc. opened a 14-employee office in the center to support its business of creating computer software systems for state legislatures.

In total, the new 21,000-square-foot incubator building — located across the street from KU’s new pharmacy school and the Multi Disciplinary Research Building — is 40 percent leased.

“We’re very pleased with how we’ve kicked things off here,” McClorey said. “We’re a bit ahead of schedule, actually.”

Once Garmin opens its offices, the center is expected to have about 30 employees, almost entirely in the high-tech sector.

“We’re working on compiling the data now, but I think compared to the average wage in Douglas County, these jobs are going to exceed the average by a significant amount,” McClorey said.

The early success has some local leaders feeling more confident in the decision to invest in the $7.5 million incubator facility. The city and county each have agreed to invest $75,000 per year for 10 years, with the university, the KU Endowment, the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority and the Kansas Bioscience Authority all providing funding as well.

“I think we’re seeing some early signs that the decision to build this facility was the right one,” said city Commissioner Mike Dever, who also serves on the local Bioscience authority.

But the early successes haven’t necessarily been of the variety first expected. The center — which has multiple wet labs — was proposed with expectations that bioscience companies would be the main tenants. But thus far, all four tenants have been more technology-oriented.

McClorey, though, said he’s negotiating deals with two potential bioscience companies, including a true start-up that would utilize research done at KU.

In the meantime, the center is filling pent-up demand from technology companies that want to be close to the engineering and computer software talent available at KU.

Although exact details of the types of jobs Garmin will bring to the center weren’t available — an attempt to reach a Garmin spokesman wasn’t immediately successful — McClorey said the company clearly was looking to establish more relationships with the university.

“Being able to tell companies that we can put you right in the heart of KU’s prime research area, and that we can help you develop relationships has been very important,” McClorey said. “Having that presence on the university campus is a big deal to a lot of companies.”


JackRipper 7 years, 3 months ago

Good ol Larryville once again shows itself to be the biggest fools in Kansas. Yes, we must build at city and university expense a high tech bio-center because like all the other fads that KU has tied its string too we are now going to be a force to reckon with in the bioscience world but what are these high tech companies? Garmin, hardly a startup company doing software that can be done anywhere thanks to real technology and from the size of their new building think what they were looking for is tax subsidized facilities but more importantly how is this a new high tech bio science success? Propylon?! A company that makes software for politicians?! Wow, I suppose this will lead KU to the forefront of bioscience and cures for cancer. But the good thing is we have the leadership that learned all the marketing hype in college so it can be spun into a man "thrilled"(usual buzzword of enthusiasm in the "leadership" class) to have companies doing software development. But of course Lawrence is going to lead us in subsidizing private businesses and plastics so we can increase the population to keep the only businesses that operate in Lawrence going, the development business. What a joke of a town of clowns who mastered in their PR and marketing. classes and don't have a clue what real things are needed. Just how to benefit their buddies.

KU_cynic 7 years, 3 months ago

I second these sentiments. The whole idea behind this center -- and the city's purchase and refitting of the Oread Labs building -- was that biotech companies needed specialized space -- wet labs and what -- that the commercial sector was ill-equipped to provide. So now we've built and funded this space only to see it occupied by companies that do not need specialized space but know a good deal on commercial real estate when they see one.

Garmin -- yes headquartered in Olathe but incorporated in the Cayman Islands -- is just taking advantage of another arbitrage opportunity -- at the expense of Kansas taxpayers.

Aiko 7 years, 3 months ago

Bad idea! Why is our money going to this? LRTC is a good idea but having companies within its umbrella that outsource software development to save money is infact defeating its intent.

somemisfits 7 years, 3 months ago

I think it's hilarious that my TomTom GPS gives way better directions around here than my wife's Garmin, since Garmin is based out of this area!

Thunderdome 7 years, 3 months ago

Where's the life science angle here? This project was billed as a way to commercialize intellectual property predominantly from the pharmacy school. Perhaps the problem is that McClory and Epp don't have a clue as to how to do it. They continue to hire people with business and law degrees who don't understand the intricacies of FDA trials, as an example. For what they are doing, they could have constructed a Butler building on the old Farmland site for a tenth of the cost!

slowplay 7 years, 3 months ago

As they both have various models priced between $200 and $600 your point is moot. What really matters on any GPS is the quality of the maps, and how well the GPS figures out the best way to get from point A to B. GPS magazine recently rated the Garmin Nuvi 680 as the most accurate. Here is their final verdict: "All three tests showed Garmin's unit as the clear winner with the strongest routing engine. Magellan's Maestro unit performed admirably, coming in second place. TomTom's ONE XL (with TomTom's newest maps installed) came in a distant 3rd place in all three tests."

Thunderdome 7 years, 3 months ago

I just found it interesting that this article turned into a urinating contest over which GPS system is better. Who cares! We are getting soaked by LRTC and you're billboarding for GPS systems?

workingmom 7 years, 3 months ago

KRichards- that is a very snarky and uncivilized comment. Let's try to use some manners.

lawrencehatesbusinesses 7 years, 3 months ago

This is wonderful news if new businesses in this town can be wonderful news. These companies do not have to pay property taxes if they locate in this building saving thousands per year. This is the way KU gives back to Lawrence and since KU doesn't pay property taxes it is wonderful. It is just as the City owns 8 electric cars and 4 buses that KU uses for free. More giving, and that is wonderful. Raise our taxes, please!

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