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Working for Kansas with our Partners in Innovation

September 12, 2011

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Through a wide variety of educational opportunities and outreach programs, the university benefits Kansas by educating our future leaders and building healthy communities. But there is another important role KU plays for our state — the role of building a strong and vibrant economy.

The future success of KU will in many ways depend upon our ability to develop partnerships. We must aggressively seek out new educational, civic, and business partners and opportunities. As we seek out new business partners, KU can be a leader in the state and the region in encouraging entrepreneurship and commercial applications of new innovations.

Partnering to grow the economy

Last October, KU dedicated the Bioscience & Technology Business Center (BTBC) on west campus. As BTBC Executive Director Matthew McClorey says, we have created more than the typical business center. Companies are being attracted by our commitment to helping them grow by giving them access to a complete entrepreneurial environment.

One of the key goals of our strategic plan is to promote engaged scholarship. Great examples of such scholarship are the innovations that BTBC facilitates to benefit our community and our state. Later this month, we will host a grand opening ceremony for a third BTBC facility at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City. The KUMC facility already has attracted three tenants. With the two Lawrence facilities and our new one opening at KUMC, there is a total of over 60,000 sq. ft. available, making this combined effort the largest business incubator in Kansas.

The 21,500 square-foot facility on west campus has a diverse list of tenants, including Olathe-based Garmin International. This month, we’ve announced two new tenants: Gyrasol Technologies, a molecular diagnostics and drug testing company, has relocated from Santa Fe, N.M. Argenta, a global provider of drug development services and contract product manufacturing for the animal health industry, is bringing 27 new jobs to Lawrence.

Both of these new firms, along with the five firms already operating in the BTBC, are working as partners with KU. For example, Gyrasol will work closely with the High Throughput Screening Laboratory, the Ralph N. Adams Institute for Bioanalytical Chemistry, and the Bioinformatics Center at KU, as well as KU researchers in medicinal chemistry, oncology, and pharmacology. The company will also utilize student interns from KU.

Our commitment to entrepreneurship is reflected by the recruitment last January of Julie Goonewardene as associate vice chancellor for innovation and research and president of the KU Center for Technology Commercialization. Julie has been working closely with faculty and staff on both the Lawrence and Medical Center campuses to generate new projects that, like Gyrasol and Argenta, work across several research disciplines and even across multiple sites.

In August, Julie was joined by fellow Purdue colleague Julie Nagel as the new director of industrial partnerships. Together they are making the university a first-rate center for entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and collaborations with businesses. You may contact either Julie at the Office of Research & Graduate Studies.

Taking action

This week is an important one for KU. Tomorrow (September 13), we will host our fifth Town Hall meeting as part of the Changing for Excellence initiative. I hope you have taken the opportunity to submit your questions and comments anonymously in advance of this meeting so that we can address the tough questions for the group.

On Wednesday, September 14, we will unveil Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan for the University of Kansas. It represents a shift in our process from planning to taking action. Your thoughts and feedback have been incredibly valuable throughout the strategic planning process, and your continued involvement will be even more important as we implement the goals, strategies, and bold ideas that comprise our strategic plan.

As always, I welcome your input at any time at provost@ku.edu.

Provost's Message Signature: 

Rock Chalk!
  -- Jeff

Jeffrey S. Vitter

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor

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