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KBA Funds National Animal Health Center of Innovation

A new “high-speed lane” will be built along the Animal Health Corridor that spans Kansas and Missouri, thanks to a $1-million investment by the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

At its board meeting in Washington, DC, the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) approved seed money to establish a public-private consortium called the National Center of Animal Health Innovation. This “center of innovation” will bring nine area animal health companies, plus regional universities and government agencies together to accelerate job creation, research, development and commercialization of the next generation of animal health and nutrition products.

“This proposal is part of an overall strategy to position Kansas as the nation’s innovation hub for animal health and animal disease research and product development,” said Tom Thornton, President and CEO of the KBA. “The center will be led by and responsive to industry. Already, these leading companies have identified opportunities to work together to support new product development to advance the competitive position of their companies and the regional economy. Bottom line, we are talking about the potential to create new products, new companies, new jobs and whole new industries for Kansas.”

Participating companies include: Bayer Animal Health, Boehringer-Ingelheim Vetmedica, Centaur, Ceva Biomune, Hennessey Research, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Intervet/Schering Plough, Nestle/Purina and Teva Animal Health.

Participating universities, organizations and government agencies are expected to include: University of Kansas, Kansas State University, University of Missouri, Midwest Research Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Services, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, National Bio and Agro- Defense Facility (NBAF), Morris Animal Foundation, National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization (NISTAC), and others.

In its first year, the center plans to establish its operations, recruit a CEO, top scientific advisors and board members, along with completing a strategic plan that will clearly define the Center’s mission, vision and value proposition. Additional funding will be based on the achievement of these and other key milestones.

The Center and its goals align with the region’s focus on animal health. A 2006 study revealed 120 companies representing $6 billion of the $19 billion global animal health market were clustered between Manhattan, KS and Columbia, MO.

“Our region has the largest single concentration of animal health companies in the world,” Thornton said. “The National Center for Animal Health Innovation will leverage this concentration of global leadership, smart people, incredible investments and cutting edge facilities to the benefit of Kansas for generations to come.”

The National Center for Animal Health Innovation is the fourth “center of innovation” the KBA has initiated and funded. The other Centers of Innovation include the Kansas Alliance for Biorefining and Bioenergy, Inc., the Center of Innovation for Biomaterials and Orthopaedic Research, Inc. and the Heartland Plant Innovations Inc. The centers must be led by industry and link research assets and industrial partners to develop new innovative products and create jobs.

Other actions by the KBA Board of Directors:

• The KBA is investing $1,500,000 in support of Kansas State University’s construction of the Feed Technology Innovation Center on the Manhattan campus as a match to new private donations or university funding commitments in support of this project. The planned facility will be jointly shared by the University’s Grain Science and Industry and Animal Science and Industry departments and will provide for production, research, teaching and laboratory facilities to study the impacts of nutrition on animal health and disease. The facility is expected to cost $13.828 million to construct and equip.

• KBA awarded $500,000 to Evogen, Inc., a Kansas City, MO-based device and diagnostics company, to support the relocation of its facility to Olathe, KS. Evogen’s move will result in the immediate creation of 16 net new jobs, and yield 35 jobs over three years. The company also plans to invest approximately $1.8 million in its new facility over three years.

• The KBA has agreed to provide a bridge loan of up to $200,000 to provide additional operating funds to KC BioMedix, Inc. (KCB), a medical device company that was established to commercialize technologies developed at the University of Kansas for the care and treatment of infants born prematurely.

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