MU incubator project granted $2.5 million

Another $2.1 million is needed before construction can start.
Sunday, August 21, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:38 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Henry White, professor of physics at MU, may soon have a new lab to create artificial light identical to sunlight but more efficient than regular light bulbs. White is one MU faculty member whose research will benefit from the construction of the MU Business Incubator, which is one step closer to being built with the announcement of a $2.5 million grant.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Missouri, announced Thursday that MU and the Missouri Innovation Center will receive the grant from the Economic Development Administration to construct the facility. The estimated cost of the incubator is $8.7 million, and MU will match the grant from the EDA, bringing the amount raised to $6.6 million. The project will need an additional $2.1 million before construction can begin.

“We expect to close the gap before the end of 2005,” said Jake Halliday, leader of the incubator project.

Bond was joined by Economic Development and MU officials to make the announcement at a news conference.

“It is great to be here to celebrate yet another milestone in Missouri’s journey to become the premier biotechnology corridor of the United States and the world,” Bond said.

The business incubator is expected to offer facilities and business mentoring to assist in the creation of new life sciences companies.

“There are at least 12 ideas ready to begin to fill this business incubator,” MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said.

The incubator will provide space and support for 10 to 14 companies at a time for about three years. Companies will “graduate” once they have developed enough resources to survive in the real world.

According to Halliday, the proposed 33,000-square-foot facility will be owned by the university, and the Missouri Innovation Center, an independent, public non-profit organization, will operate the incubator program.

Plans for the new facility locate it by the MU Research Reactor, off Providence Road, but Deaton said this is still an ongoing discussion.

“We continue to look at options as plans develop,” he said.

Officials agreed that the benefits of the business incubator will span the entire community. Deaton said surrounding communities and counties will benefit from the higher paying jobs that will be developed through the incubator, while the creation of new businesses will boost the mid-Missouri economy and benefit the entire state.

Deaton also said students will benefit from the opportunity to work as interns and see firsthand the process by which ideas become applied.

Rep. Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, also at the event, shared the positive outlook on the business incubator but expressed concern over a possible ban on stem-cell research.

“The university and Columbia are well positioned to be leaders in the life sciences movement,” said Harris, who is Minority Floor Leader in the General Assembly. “We need to take the initiative instead of fighting a battle that can be devastating to the creation of hope and opportunity for the people of Missouri.”

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