Curators to weigh reactor deal

MU must make a commitment in exchange for $2.5 million in grants
to finalize the project.
Wednesday, September 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:51 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

MU is taking another step this week in securing the $8.1 million needed for the new Life Sciences Incubation Center on Research Reactor Field.

The center is part of a statewide effort to create economic development from the life sciences-related research done throughout the University of Missouri system.

Later this week, the University of Missouri Board of Curators will consider committing a part of Research Reactor Field to economic development for the next 20 years. This commitment is required in exchange for $2.5 million in grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

If MU fails to comply with its commitment, it would be required to refund the federal government a share of the value of the property on South Providence Road.

MU has committed $2.5 million to the project — $1.7 million in cash and another $800,000 in land value and site preparation for the new center. This still leaves $3.1 million to be raised by the incubator project from local businesses, surrounding counties, private foundations, alumni and other individuals, according to documents prepared for the curators’ meeting.

The center will be operated and managed by a nonuniversity entity, according to a purpose and use agreement that the curators will vote on when they meet Thursday and Friday in Mount Vernon.

Jake Halliday, who is spearheading the project, said the incubator will get assistance from the state for initial funding of operations until it can run on the revenue generated from the operations. The initial operating revenue will also come from other sources.

The statewide economic-growth effort also includes the $60 million Life Sciences Center that will formally open Sept. 17. The incubator is meant to provide mentoring programs, seed grant opportunities and help to match up parties that have similar interests to help small and mid-size technology companies flourish in Missouri, Halliday said.

The center will also serve as a laboratory for students who are studying entrepreneurship at the MU College of Business.

So far, the private funding of the center has reached $250,000, Halliday said. The goal is to raise the remaining $2.85 million by March or April of next year. They have a limited amount of time to raise the private funds without losing the federal grant.

“I am excited that our federal funding strategy has been so successful,” he said. “MU has also done their share of contributing funds. Now it is time for the business community to do their share.”

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