OLATHE, Kan. — The new Center for Animal Health Innovation has opened at the Kansas State University Olathe campus, serving as a kind of “”filling station”” for companies located within the KC Animal Health Corridor and beyond.
Animal health companies continuously look for new technologies that can be developed and commercialized, while the developers of many of those technologies — universities, entrepreneurs and small start-up companies — are seeking ways to get their discoveries to interested companies. The Center for Animal Health Innovation will link technology developers with industry, thereby helping to bring new products to market faster and more efficiently.
“”The Center for Animal Health Innovation will effectively serve as a filling station for the pipeline of animal health companies,”” said Tony Simpson, director of commercialization for the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA), which provided a $1 million seed grant to the Center. “”Identifying new technologies is expensive and time consuming for animal health companies. And for entrepreneurs and universities, getting their discoveries into these large companies can be a big challenge.
“”These new technologies often need an industry perspective to mature them before a company will invest,”” Simpson added. “”The Center will help companies identify and refine promising new technologies, while helping researchers find someone to partner with to commercialize the new technologies they’re developing.””
While the Center’s goal is to help grow the companies within the Animal Health Corridor, the KBA expects the Center will also generate interest from companies outside of the region. “”They’ll want to partner with us and take advantage of our resources,”” Simpson said.
The Center’s board chairman, Dr. Wayne Carter, vice president-global research for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, agrees that the Center will generate a collaborative environment within the animal health industry that could lead to advancing animal health care more rapidly.
“”We all want to figure out ways to harness new technologies and determine where we’ll apply them from a competitive perspective,”” Carter said. “”The industry appreciates that we’re not advancing our understanding of animal health care quickly enough. We want to work with the Center to figure out, as an industry, where the opportunities exist.””
The Center’s seven-person board of directors includes members from five leading animal health companies. Paula Stack, the Center’s interim CEO, sees this as a competitive advantage. Established animal health companies can provide researchers an industry-driven perspective on the types of products the industry needs and those that have the greatest potential.
“”Our efforts are focused on promoting this synergy between academic and industry partners,”” Stack said. “”The Center’s primary role is to help accelerate the development and commercialization of new technologies that will positively impact the animal health industry.””
Kansas State University’s leadership role in animal health and animal disease research made the school’s new Olathe campus the right location for the new Center, according to Dr. Dan Getman, president of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute.
“”There’s a great deal of synergy between the Center’s role and the mission of the Kansas State Olathe campus,”” Getman said. “”They are creating a dynamic environment to facilitate interactions between industry and academia, which will complement the Center’s work. It’s a really good fit.””
Getman was instrumental in bringing the region’s animal health companies together to recognize the Center’s potential and provide the needed expertise that shaped the proposal for the Center to the KBA, according to Simpson.
“”To bring industry leaders together around a vision and then have them take ownership of that vision is no small talent,”” Simpson said. “”Dan was the facilitator showing the industry what the Center could be and asking them how the Center could add value and be something they all could support.””
Initially, Stack and her board will be busy establishing the Center’s operations and recruiting a scientific advisory board of “”best-in-class people”” that will review and assess new technologies, both from a science and a business perspective. In addition to Simpson, Getman and Carter, the board includes Dr. Ernst Heinen, vice president, research and development, Bayer Animal Health; Mark Metrokotsas, president and CEO, Centaur; Dr. Kristi Moore Dorsey, vice president, research and development, CEVA/Biomune; and Dr. Edward Robb, vice president, research and development, Boerhinger Ingelheim/Vetmedica.””The animal health industry can generate significant economic growth,”” Stack said. “”While we’re committed to the growth and success of companies located within the Animal Health Corridor, we’ll also be looking for opportunities nationally and globally. Important research is being done around the world, and whether it comes from Europe, Asia or somewhere in the U.S., a good idea is a good idea.””