KBA committee approves new policy for investments

? A Kansas Bioscience Authority committee Tuesday approved a new policy to guide the state-funded body’s investments and grants. But the specifics remain closed to the public until the policy is approved by the KBA’s board of directors, possibly later this month.

The KBA’s investment committee unanimously approved the policy after meeting in executive session for about an hour and 20 minutes Tuesday afternoon.

The organization, created in 2004 by the Kansas Legislature, has never had a single unifying policy to guide all of its investments, said Tom Krol, a KBA director of commercialization. Instead, criteria and guidelines have been set for several specific investment programs.

“Now as we have a new strategy for the organization, we’re putting in place a new investment policy,” Krol said.

Duane Cantrell, hired in November 2012 as the KBA’s new president and CEO, has outlined a new overall strategy for the organization based on five tenets, Krol said. His aim is for the KBA to emphasize return on its capital investments; bringing capital into the state; creating permanent, self-sufficient jobs within the state; creating goods and services for export from the state; and the commercialization of intellectual property.

The name for the new philosophy in the halls of the KBA’s Olathe headquarters is “KBA 2.0,” Krol said.

In February, Cantrell told a state Senate committee that the KBA had developed an “entitlement mentality” previously but that it would work to earn the Legislature’s trust. That came after Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposed a significant cut to the KBA’s budget.

Cantrell was out of town at a speaking engagement Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

Brownback helped prompt a $1 million audit of the KBA that questioned some activities by Cantrell’s predecessor as permanent KBA leader, Tom Thornton, but found that its board had handled investments acceptably.

The KBA’s new investment policy will be on the agenda for approval by its board of directors at its April 30 meeting.