As the state’s flagship university, the University of Kansas has a responsibility to contribute to the health, vitality and prosperity of our state. Included in that mission is encouraging the commercialization of KU discoveries.
As part of Bold Aspirations, for the first time both the number of startup companies we create and the amount of technology we bring to market are formal metrics for how we’ll judge ourselves.
KU’s strides in this area are already being noticed, as last month I was invited to deliver the keynote address at the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer’s University Startups Conference in Washington, DC.
I told the audience about the tremendous success of our Bioscience and Technology Business Center, which is now the largest incubator network in Kansas. Ligand Pharmaceuticals is its 15th tenant, bringing the BTBC Main Facility in Lawrence to 100 percent occupancy just 18 months after it opened.
The day before the convention, we announced the hiring of Rajiv Kulkarni as the new director of our Center for Technology Commercialization, joining a commercialization team that includes Julie Goonewardene and Julie Nagel. Kulkarni comes to KU from the University of Utah, which for the past two years has been ranked No. 1 in the nation at starting companies based on university research.
And less than a week later, we announced that KUMC researcher Jennifer Klemp has created a new startup company called Cancer Survivorship Training, Inc. Her company trains health providers who care for cancer survivors and is the 23rd active company created from KU research.
These are just the most recent achievements in this increasingly important aspect of our university’s mission. There are many others one could highlight.
The Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis continues work on a biorefining initiative that holds tremendous promise for bringing sustainable prosperity to rural communities, while also reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
We recently entered into an agreement with the BioPontis Alliance to bring more life-changing treatments to patients, which is also the mission of Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the medical center.
And last year, KU researchers Michael Detamore and Jennifer Laurence were awarded prestigious Coulter Foundation Awards for Translational Research, of which there were only 15 nationally. KU was the only university to have multiple winners, a distinction that highlights the entrepreneurial drive of our faculty.
Obviously, not all discoveries will lead to new products, treatments or companies, and we do not expect them to. The value of KU’s research, scholarship and creative works cannot be measured in dollars alone.
But as we contribute to the vitality of our society, we also have a responsibility to contribute to its prosperity. That’s another way we can build healthy communities, as well as help ensure that our discoveries change the world.