EDA Investments Boost Bioscience and Technology at KU Innovation Park
Lawrence, Kansas, is already our planet’s default center on Google Earth. Now with EDA support, it will also serve as the center of bioscience and technology in the state.
This summer, officials held the grand opening for Phase III of KU Innovation Park, a new 66,000 square- foot building filled with wet-lab and office space. The facility was completed through a $7.8 million EDA Economic Adjustment Assistance investment funded through the 2019 Disaster supplemental.
“There isn’t a whole lot of wet lab space in the region. It’s expensive to develop, and if a company wanted to grow, they typically had to leave the region,” said Adam Courtney, Chief Financial Officer. “Our facility fills that gap, and we continue to see high demand for the space.”
Formerly the Bioscience Technology Business Center, KU Innovation Park was created in 2010 through four stakeholders: the city of Lawrence, Douglas County, the University of Kansas, and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. Its goal is to create, recruit, grow, and retain life science companies who create jobs and wealth in the region and state.
“Prior to these facilities, our local economy was based predominantly on public sector, university, and service industry jobs. These facilities will help to diversify our economy by growing more tech, research, science, and business jobs. They will also make it more resilient.” Courtney said.
The Phase III building will house 12 companies and officials expect it to be fully booked by the end of 2022. Many of the companies are graduating to Phase II from the Park’s incubator building, including those focused on vaccine development, radar sensing, drone technology, and cybersecurity.
“Phase III is an expansion for a lot of our companies. They have grown out of their current space and facilities and now need additional resources,” said Courtney. “With current companies moving into the new space, that frees up the main building for new startups to grow and develop.”
The innovation park is also expanding its business services support to startup companies and adding a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) lab for small scale, pilot manufacturing. Additionally, officials are adding a new accelerator suite program and space to house additional startup companies, thanks to a $1.5 million EDA Build to Scale investment.
“Our goal is to meet companies where they are at and provide that level of service or whatever services they need at that time,” said Courtney.
KU Innovation Park has a network of 63 current and graduate companies, which have created 590 jobs and $36 million in payroll.
“A successful graduate company for us is keeping the company in the region or state and most of our companies have done so. We’re really trying to help these companies grow roots and grow the regional and state economy,” said Courtney.
Based on the Park’s growth, development, and demand, officials are already planning for future phases.
“Looking back on what we’ve done, we feel we can continue to be successful and have that compound growth over the next 15 years. Our goal is to construct 10 buildings and 800,000 square feet of space, which would create up to 4,000 jobs,” Courtney said.