1. K-State home
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Purple power: Kansas State University using expertise to grow and enhance economy...

K-State Today

September 19, 2011



Purple power: Kansas State University using expertise to grow and enhance economy in Kansas, region

By Communications and Marketing

In addition to enriching the skill sets of students who will become future researchers and leaders, Kansas State University is also enriching the local and regional economy.

"As a comprehensive, research-based land-grant institution, Kansas State University's mission is not only serving students, but advancing the well-being of the community and improving Kansans' quality of life," said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. "Our partnerships with KBED, the Small High Tech Company Recruitment Program, and with industry are stimulating innovation and economic growth in the state. As Kansas State University moves forward to becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025, we anticipate benefiting Kansans more than ever, and enhancing the nation's economy."

At a regional and local level, Kansas State University is an affiliate partner with the Knowledge Based Economic Development LLC, or KBED. The organization's partners focus on growing a knowledge-based economy by recruiting companies to the area that complement the university's strengths in animal health, food science and safety, grain science, mechanical and nuclear engineering, nanoscience and plant science. The partnership is responsible for increasing the number of high-wage jobs in the Manhattan, Kan., area and region, generating new discoveries and technologies through university-industry collaboration, and boosting infrastructure in the region.

In the past three years KBED partners created more than 25 new jobs in the Manhattan area and channeled an estimated $3.2 million in new revenue to the region with these jobs. Three animal health companies have relocated to the region in the past two years in order to work in close proximity to Kansas State University researchers. Additionally, every prospective company interested in relocating or expanding to the area and to the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor expresses interest in collaborating with the university and local industry, and hiring students.

"This partnership between the university and the community is really about showcasing the world-class expertise and talented work force here in the Manhattan area," said Rebecca Spexarth, director of economic development for KBED and the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization. "The Manhattan community and Kansas State University have a lot to offer innovation-based and research-driven companies, and industry is beginning to recognize that."

In addition to the university, KBED partners are the city of Manhattan, Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas State University Foundation, Kansas State University Research Foundation, North Central Kansas Community Network, and Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization.

Kansas State is also part of the Small High Tech Company Recruitment, a pilot program with the University of Kansas, Kansas Department of Commerce and the cities of Manhattan and Lawrence, Kan.

The Small High Tech Company Recruitment Program is committed to attracting small- and medium-sized knowledge-based and technology-based companies to the state in an effort to prosper the region both economically and intellectually.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 64 percent -- or 14.5 million -- of the 22.5 million of the country's net new jobs in 15 years leading up to 2008. Those statistics also show that of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S., more than one-third are knowledge-based or technology-based occupations -- and typically require a higher education degree.

Partnering with industry is another way Kansas State University is bolstering innovation and the local economy in the process.

In January the university and its Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization partnered with Abaxis Inc., a publicly traded global animal health company. Abaxis relocated to the Kansas City area in order to be closer to the university's Olathe campus, which extends Kansas State University's legacy of expertise in the profession. Over the next 10 years the partnership is projected to bring 50 to 100 jobs to the state.

Moreover, veterinary students at Kansas State University and at the university's Olathe campus will work with university and industry experts on diagnosing and treating diseases affecting companion and exotic animals, further increasing the university's commitment to knowledge.

"All these efforts are about bringing together industry, community and the university in order to create high-paying jobs and knowledge-based prosperity," said Kent Glasscock, president of the Kansas State University Institute for Commercialization and a KBED partner. "But if you have a knowledge-based economic development initiative it doesn't work very well without knowledge, and knowledge is what Kansas State University has in abundance."