University of Kansas kicks off 15-year expansion of business incubator with new lab, office space

Innovation Park’s aim is to add 4,000 high-tech, biosience jobs in Kansas

By: - August 18, 2022 8:57 am
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, said opening of a new laboratory and office building in the Innovation Park at University of Kansas will deliver return on public and private investment. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, said opening of a new laboratory and office building in the Innovation Park at University of Kansas will deliver return on public and private investment. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas plans a 15-year expansion of a high-technology and bioscience business park on campus to directly create 4,000 jobs through development, recruitment and retention of a generation of companies that drive economic growth in the state.

On Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and KU chancellor Doug Girod marked completion of the third phase of KU Innovation Park — a building adding 66,000 square feet of laboratory and office space. Ten companies have signed leases to occupy portions of the building.

Innovation Park draws upon a collaboration among city, county, state, federal, university and private resources. It was recipient of a $5 million state grant and a request for $50 million is pending.

A $7.8 million appropriation from the U.S. Department of Commerce was the final piece of a complex financing puzzle for the $24 million addition to Innovation Park. The federal budget process also provided $1 million to equip the new building, Moran said.

“This is an investment in this state’s future,” the Republican senator said. “I care greatly about taxpayers and the return on investment.”

KU’s goal is to construct 10 buildings and 800,000 square feet of work space in the business park by 2036. The facilities would serve as a gateway for startups, private companies and government agencies to gain access to university facilities, intellectual property and skilled students and graduates.

“By providing direct access to world-class research and talent, the KU Innovation Park and this new facility will incentivize companies to make their technological breakthroughs right here in Kansas,” Kelly said. “Economic development and job creation is among my top priorities.”

Currently, Innovation Park has a network of more than 60 companies providing about 550 jobs and $30 million in annual payroll.

“Our mission is to educate leaders of tomorrow and also make discoveries that change the world,” said Girod, the KU chancellor.

He said the independent, nonprofit Innovation Park was dedicated to transforming the regional economic landscape through support of research, entrepreneurship and commercialization of technology.

“Kansas is at the cutting edge of research across a wide range of industries, and this fuels the new businesses and jobs of tomorrow,” said David Toland, secretary of the Kansas Department of Commerce. “Our state’s innovation ecosystem and strong talent pipelines will continue to spark new business investment and create new jobs for highly skilled Kansans to put down roots in our state.”

The four founding stakeholders of Innovation Park were KU, the City of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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