TOPEKA — The chief executive officer of the Kansas Bioscience Authority has received $150,000 in bonuses since taking the job 18 months ago.
Duane Cantrell was hired by the KBA board of directors in November 2012 at a salary of $265,000 per year to lead the agency, according to figures provided by the KBA.
The agency was established in 2004 and charged with investing tax dollars to help develop the bioscience sector in Kansas.
Cantrell came to the KBA after a time of upheaval at the agency when the former CEO, Tom Thornton, resigned in April 2011.
Cantrell had become a candidate to lead the KBA after he provided consulting on the strategic planning process that the KBA board had undertaken. Cantrell had no prior experience in bioscience. He had worked for Payless ShoeSource for 26 years, serving as president from 2001 to 2004. Then he worked as managing partner for the retail consulting firm Genus Consulting in Topeka.
Cantrell was awarded his bonuses at the KBA because he hit several performance-based objectives that were measured and determined by the KBA Board of Directors, KBA officials said. That included re-positioning the agency in the face of reduced funding from the state.
"Some think the bonus is substantial. He has earned very bit of it," said KBA board member S.J. "Sherry" Shaub. "He developed a strategy that will move the KBA to a market-based and fully self-sustaining vehicle, hopefully in the next three years," Shaub said.
Shaub said Cantrell found that the agency had over-committed funding to companies. Cantrell reviewed the commitments, found companies that were not hitting the development goals they needed to in order to get that money, so he de-committed $59 million. Shaub said Cantrell also cut the operational overhead of the KBA by a one-third.
Shaub said that he and the board are extremely satisfied with Cantrell's job performance.
Cantrell said much of the focus this year for the KBA would be on "establishing deep relationships with venture capital investors to lure capital investment into the state of Kansas."
He also said he believed the agency was tracking well on the objectives of improving the return of invested dollars.
Cantrell deferred questions about his bonuses to the board.