Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Owensboro's Emerging Infrastructure to Support Life Sciences and High Tech

Continuing from the BIO Conference in San Diego...

A key result of the first two years of implementation of the Life Science Strategy for Owensboro has been the development of an infrastructure to support the growth of high technology companies in the region.

At the inception of the Strategic Plan, Owensboro had very little in the way of infrastructure to support high tech development. Since 2006 the following high tech infrastructure has been implemented:

Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation part of the state Innovation and Commercialization Center framework helps meet the needs of the plant biotech and other high tech companies connecting them to local, state and national resources. This connection has served several companies utilizing the expertise of the Kentucky BioProcessing facility, thus far five KBP client companies have applied for state funding.

Emerging Ventures Fund created in 2007 by the City of Owensboro, utilizing funds from the Owensboro Riverport Authority. This seed capital pool supports the relocation and growth of high tech companies in the region.

Greater Owensboro Venture Club provides an angel investor network, access to local and state venture funds for life science companies. KBP collaborators and potential customers have presented or are considered likely future presenters to club members.

Northwest Kentucky Green initiative is a regional partnership with Northwest Kentucky Forward, the economic development agency based in Henderson focusing on diversifying the regional economy through support of innovative developments in renewable energy and plant-made natural products. The initiative is serving as a model for regional rural innovation-based economic development around the Commonwealth (http://www.northwestkentuckygreen.com/).

Higher education research and workforce development partnerships- GO-EDC has worked with local and regional postsecondary institutions to develop the future workforce needed for growing biotechnology companies. Last year the Owensboro Community and Technical College received an $800,000 Department of Labor grant to enable the college to recruit high school students and link the two-year degree program in biotechnology to the bachelor’s degree program at Western Kentucky University. The expansion of the WKU undergraduate and graduate degree biotechnology program in Owensboro will also open the door for applied research opportunities in the future.

Owensboro Biotech Alliance Agriculture Database- The regional agriculture industry is engaged in the partnership through the Owensboro Biotech Alliance. Regional farmers are experienced in biotechnology related production and enjoy a national reputation for compliance with USDA regulations. In 2007 OBA completed a comprehensive database of local farmers that have the expertise and willingness to grow crops for plant biotechnology companies.

Next up: Accomplishments in the biotech industry in Owensboro, including KBP, the Owensboro Cancer Research Program, and two new companies in 2007! Click here for more information on the Greater Owensboro Life Science Partnership.

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