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LAWRENCE — Just three years after The University of Kansas opened its Bioscience and Technology Business Center, construction is beginning on an addition that will more than double the space available for tenants.

The need for the $10 million expansion became evident when the existing building — a mix of offices and lab spaces — filled up with tenants more quickly than anyone expected.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little recalled at Friday’s groundbreaking that one of the first things she did upon arriving at KU in 2009 was to wield a shovel for the groundbreaking ceremony on the original building, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.

“This is just a very short time, and great progress has been made since then,” Gray-Little said.

The 30,000-square-foot addition will provide space for nine to 15 more business tenants in addition to the nine already there, a mix of startups and more established firms. The new spots will be available starting in summer 2014.

It also will provide a home for KU’s Center for Technology Commercialization, plus a laboratory for student entrepreneurs in the KU School of Business.

The Bioscience and Business Technology Center also has two other facilities in Lawrence and one at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., making it the largest business incubator network in the Midwest, according to university officials. Altogether, they currently have 29 tenant companies that have created 116 jobs and total about $4 million in payroll.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday praised the main Lawrence center for achieving full occupancy three years ahead of schedule when similar incubators at other universities around the country have struggled to attract tenants. He said the center was a valuable weapon in the state’s “battle” for jobs.

“The real accomplishment here today is that we’re building another building because this one’s full,” Brownback said.

Douglas County and the city of Lawrence are contributing $1 million each toward the cost of the addition. The KU Endowment Association will pay $5.5 million of the cost, the KU Center for Research will pay $2 million, and the BTBC itself will chip in $500,000.

Contributors for the original, $7.5 million facility also included the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

story from Topeka Capital-Journal
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