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Posted 08.21.05

MU Business Incubator Receives $2.5 Million Federal Grant

Incubator will Benefit Local Communities, Surrounding Counties

COLUMBIA, MO -- Today, Sen. Kit Bond and officials from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the University of Missouri-Columbia and the Missouri Innovation Center will receive a $2.5 million grant for construction of the MU Business Incubator. The estimated cost of the incubator is $8.7 million. MU will match the grant from the Economic Development Administration.

"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," said Senator Kit Bond. "The Life Sciences Business Incubation Center is a key step in creating the biotechnology corridor. Through it we hope to attract private investment and employers who will create high-paying jobs for this area and advance the life sciences in Missouri."

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"The technology business incubator at MU is a key step in the region's strategy to establish a technology industry cluster," said Jim Coleman, MU vice provost for research. "By creating this, we will be able to attract private capital investment, create more high-paying professional jobs and enhance industry collaboration with the University."

According to Jake Halliday, project leader of the incubator project, the University will own the 33,000 square feet facility, and the incubator program will be operated by an independent, public non-profit organization. Halliday anticipates that more than 1,700 jobs will be created over 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in private capital investment will be attracted to the region.

The incubator will house 10 to 14 companies at a time for about three years before the companies would leave to expand their businesses. The Missouri Innovation Center will be the non-profit operator of the incubator.

"The incubator has the potential to create new businesses, which will boost the mid-Missouri economy as well as the entire state," MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said. "Surrounding communities and counties benefit directly by the jobs that will be developed through the incubator. In addition, the state will benefit by the addition of spin-off businesses."

Pacemakers, acid reflux drugs and explosion-resistant walls are just some of the technologies that University of Missouri-Columbia researchers have played a part in developing in recent years. Getting those technologies to the marketplace for consumers is a challenge that MU officials hope will be easier in the future with the incubator.

The incubator will focus on life sciences ventures, but will not be exclusive to the life sciences, Coleman said. Some of the current MU research that might be a part of the incubator includes: biofuels, radiopharmaceuticals, silicon nanomaterials, managing health data, information technology and biosensors.

Henry White, professor of physics, is one MU faculty member who would benefit from the incubator. White's research has led to a new semiconductor compound that would be useful to make higher density optical storage and more efficient lighting. Examples of this technology include storing a high-resolution HDTV movie on a single disc or creating artificial light that is identical to sunlight but more efficient than regular light bulbs. The technology also could be relevant for space and defense purposes. White's company, MOXtronics, has received Phase II Small Business Innovative Research grants from the Office of Naval Research and NASA recently.

"An incubator of this type has been needed for years," White said. "This is a very critical time for many faculty who have needs for facilities and management help. In addition, the incubator can help faculty make contacts with groups that can provide capital. Jake Halliday's excellent leadership will serve the faculty well. We appreciate all the support that the Columbia business community and the state have provided, and especially Sen. Bond."

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