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Investments in University Research, TBED Consolidation Sought in Kansas

January 26, 2011

While seeking to spur economic growth through new investments in university-based research, Gov. Sam Brownback also proposes to consolidate the efforts of a longstanding program recognized for creating high-wage jobs and diversifying the state's economy. Under the governor's FY12 budget proposal, many of the programs currently managed by the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC), which provides dedicated support for researchers, entrepreneurs and technology companies, would be transferred to the Department of Commerce.

Eliminating KTEC and folding some of its programs into the Department of Commerce would save $1.7 million, according to budget documents. Overall, the governor's budget proposes elimination of eight state agencies for a cost savings of $9.2 million. A similar plan was proposed by former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius two years ago and subsequently rejected by the legislature.

Under the plan, the Department of Commerce would manage the Centers of Excellence ($1.35 million), Entrepreneurial Centers ($968,023), and Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center ($1 million). The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program ($1 million) would be managed by the Board of Regents, and the state's five-year old PIPELINE mentoring program for entrepreneurs would be phased out. The governor recommends a new appropriation of $100,000 for a small technology pilot program to target and recruit small, technology-based companies to the state.

Gov. Brownback in his State of the State address announced a new, university-based research initiative to enhance job growth in sectors seen as key to growing the state's economy, such as aviation, cancer research, animal health and engineering. In his budget proposal unveiled last week, the governor includes $15 million in general funds within the Department of Commerce to initiate the program, which he envisions as a three-year effort reaching $105 million with matching funds from the participating universities. In FY12, the program would provide $5 million each for animal health research at Kansas State University, cancer research at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and aviation research at Wichita State University. Universities would provide a dollar-for-dollar match.

Also part of the proposed University Economic Growth Initiative is $1 million for an expansion of the state's professional engineer training programs and $500,000 for a competitive community college grant program to help private sector industries meet workforce needs.

Budget documents reflect a transfer of $35 million for the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA), the same as last year. KBA was established by the Kansas Economic Growth Act of 2004 to expand the state's research capacity by offering support services and capital to bioscience companies.

The governor's executive budget recommendations are available at: http://budget.ks.gov/publications/FY2012/FY2012_GBR_Volume1.pdf and the budget by agency program is available at: http://budget.ks.gov/publications/FY2012/FY2012_GBR_Volume2.pdf

Kansasr&d, state tbed, higher ed, workforce, state budget, bio, aerospace, stem