SSTI Digest

Geography: Kansas

Research, Innovation and Education Initiatives Proposed in Kansas Budget

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius delivered her State of the State Address last week proposing new initiatives and continued funding for several TBED programs emphasizing education and innovation as key to the state’s future economy.

Gov. Sebelius announced a proposal to create the Kansas Innovation Consortium, comprised of leaders from business, higher education, and state and local officials charged with advising the governor on research and education priorities for the state to achieve an innovation-based economy. The consortium also would develop specific strategies for investing in innovation and entrepreneurship and develop metrics to measure innovation and determine if the strategy is successful. The governor is requesting $150,000 from the Economic Development Initiatives Fund (EDIF) for start-up costs associated with the new group.

Beginning with education, Gov. Sebelius said that high-quality teachers are critical to retaining more scientists, engineers and skilled technicians for the Kansas workforce. Therefore, the governor’s fiscal year 2009 budget recommendation includes $1 million for a new teaching scholarship program in math, science and technology, the STEM Teachers Service Program. The governor also proposes $250,000 in FY09 funding to the Kansas Academy for Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential program established by the state legislature in 2006. Opening in 2009 at Fort Hays State University, the program combines a high school diploma with college credits equivalent to an associate of arts or science.

The FY09 budget recommendation invests $2 million from the state’s Expanded Lottery Act Revenues Fund (ELARF) in a new Bioenergy Research Program through the Department of Commerce. The program would provide grants and low interest loans to finance the commercialization of new technological breakthroughs in bioenergy research. Commercializing new technologies will require significant capital, the budget documents explain, so the funding would be used to assist bioenergy companies and research institutes with the costs.

Under Gov. Sebelius’ recommendation, the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) would receive $14.3 million in total funds (a slight increase over the FY08 estimate of $14 million), which includes $12.5 million from the EDIF and $1.8 million in federal funds. KTEC provides research support, direct company investments and business assistance to grow Kansas enterprises through technological innovation and business acceleration. Recommendations for the following KTEC programs include:

TBED People

Clay Blair resigned as chairman of Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Filling in the Pieces to Build the High-Tech Economy in Kansas City

The Kansas City region is obtaining funding for high-tech research in the life sciences, but entrepreneurship is stifled because of fragmented efforts to improve the innovation environment and the region’s lack of an overall strategy for its various stakeholders. This finding and others were identified in Completing the Puzzle: Creating a High-Tech and Life Sciences Economy in Kansas City, a recent report prepared for the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. The report offers suggestions on how a “second-tier” region like Kansas City can build upon its existing industrial capacity to emerge as a viable location for knowledge-based industries.


While labeled as a relatively diverse and stable economy, the report cites the underperformance of the Kansas City region compared to other metropolitan areas using several innovation metrics: a patent registration rate below the national average; lower rankings in the amount of funds received for R&D; a relatively smaller number of advanced degrees awarded in the region; and the inability for local entrepreneurs to obtain SBIR and STTR grants and venture capital. For example, where the total amount of research expenditures doubled at Kansas City life science institutions from $122 million in 2000 to $243 million in 2004, the amount of venture capital investments in the region fell from $55 million to $6.5 million in the same period.


The report explores the perceived necessity of metropolitan areas to contain a top-tier research university. In this case, the Kansas City region does not contain a traditional top-tier research university, so other institutions in the region, such as private R&D intuitions like Marion Laboratories, Cerner Corporation and Sprint, have created the effects of a research university over the years, the report contends. These institutions – labeled “surrogate universities” – produce a substitution effect by their ability to attract and retain a skilled labor pool, produce innovative products and develop spin-off companies.


The report offers suggestions on how to improve the commercialization and networking functions in the Kansas City region. They include:


The Kansas Bioscience Authority named Thomas Thornton as its first president and CEO.


Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has appointed former Kansas Gov. John Carlin to the Kansas Bioscience Authority.


Joni Cobb is the first president of KTEC Pipeline, Kansas's new technology entrepreneurship fellowship program.

KTEC Pipeline to Match Kansas Entrepreneurs with Training, Mentors, Money

The metaphor of a pipeline is often used for describing the innovation process and, specifically, the health of a regional innovation system. Sustaining knowledge-based growth requires a steady flow of ideas, people and capital. Often, the flow can be weak in one of these areas -- or clogged by other factors such as lack of key resources or programs.


Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. named Trish Costello as its newest Entrepreneur in Residence.


Sandy Johnson, interim CEO of the Mid-American Manufacturing Technology Center, was appointed to the position on a permanent basis.


Sandy Johnson was promoted to CEO of the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center.


The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. promoted Kevin Carr to the position of chief operations officer.


Angela Kreps is the first president of the year-old Kansas Bioscience Organization.