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K-State Today

October 16, 2015

Partnership helping to generate research opportunities in food, water, energy

Submitted by Pat Melgares

A partnership between the Manhattan community and Kansas State University is continuing its efforts to advance research and collaboration opportunities for faculty.

The Knowledge Based Economic Development, or KBED, program brought together faculty and leading campus officials Oct. 14 to provide a structure that will strengthen research in food, water and energy.

Their goal was to develop interdisciplinary teams that could address these important issues, and position the university to successfully apply for near-term funding from the National Science Foundation, as well as long-term funding from other federal agencies and industry partners.

According to Rebecca Robinson, director of economic development in the university's Institute for Commercialization, this is the 24th such meeting hosted by KBED since 2010. The series was initiated by President Kirk Schulz to help research leaders define opportunities for the Kansas State University community.

In the past, KBED has hosted meetings centered on rural economic development, unmanned aerial systems, childhood development, gerontology, pet food, wind energy and more.

"KBED is an excellent example of the collaborations between our city and university to leverage our world-class faculty talents to solve tomorrow's challenges, while providing economic development opportunities for the community," said Noel Schulz, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the College of Engineering.

Noel Schulz sees particular value in research focusing on water.

"Kansas State University is well-positioned to solve water challenges in the areas of production agriculture, urban water and industrial water systems within our state, nation and world," she said. "Many colleges have added early career faculty in water areas, and by developing partnerships with our senior faculty, we have created more depth and breadth of expertise."

The timing of this week's meeting was ideal in light of a Friday, Oct. 16, deadline for internal seed grants to conduct water-related research in the coming year. The internal grants will help Kansas State University faculty prepare and position themselves for funding from NSF, which anticipates investing $75 million next year for research in food, energy and water systems.

Applications for the seed grants are due to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs by 5 p.m. Oct. 16.

Mary Rezac, interim associate vice president for research, noted that the KBED meeting also allows faculty and staff to provide input into a Critical Research Needs report for the National Science Foundation, which uses the report and a dozen like it to develop funding opportunities in fiscal year 2016.

Manhattan and Kansas State University formed KBED to align the community's economic development strategy with the university's strengths. The group includes the city of Manhattan, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, Kansas State University, the KSU Foundation, North Central Kansas Community Network, the Institute for Commercialization and the KSU Research Foundation.

In addition to hosting the regular meetings on interdisciplinary research topics, KBED is attracting new companies to Manhattan, and helping university researchers develop commercialization partnerships with those companies. Since 2008, KBED has helped to create 268 full-time jobs in the region at an average salary of $53,043.

For more information, contact Robinson at 785-532-3955, or spexarth@k-state.edu.