Opening new KU laboratory, office space building kicks off 15-year business incubator expansion


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

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by Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector
August 18, 2022

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.

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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