KU Innovation Park wins funding for shared GMP pilot plant

KU Innovation Park was awarded a $958K Congressional Community Project Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a shared Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) pilot plant within the Park’s incubator facility located adjacent to KU’s West Campus in Lawrence.

The 700-square-foot facility will serve as a low-cost shared resource to support regional bio and life science companies, and as a workforce development asset that can train technicians to work in these specialized labs without needing an advanced degree. The Park hopes that the availability of the lab will help meet existing unmet demand for GMP facilities within the region and increase the availability of trained technicians needed to work in them. The facility is expected to enable Park companies to create an additional 10 jobs over the next four years, with the capacity to train between 7-15 lab technicians each year.

“Lab facilities are generally expensive to build and maintain, but GMP facilities are especially costly. They require higher standards and are only used intermittently within each trial, making it prohibitively expensive for small and early-stage companies to develop their own,” said Mike Smithyman, Director of Operations at the KU Innovation Park. “There is a limited number of commercially available API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient) capable facilities in Kansas. This forces companies to contract with organizations outside the region, resulting in increased costs and longer development timelines. A GMP lab within the Park will be able to recruit and retain bio and life sciences companies to the region and help keep these dollars and jobs here in Lawrence.”

“Since the start of the Pandemic, we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for GMP facilities among our resident and prospective biosciences companies. Some of these companies are working directly on treatments and diagnostics for COVID-19 that require access to GMP facilities to produce small-volume APIs for human trials. With the added GMP facility, the Park will be able to support these companies as they mature from proof-of-concept R&D to pilot-scale manufacturing and clinical trials.” Said Adam Courtney, CFO of KU Innovation Park and the manager of the GMP project. “Additionally, the broader increase in Federal funding for biomedical research from the ‘CARES’ Act and other pandemic-related legislation have created opportunities for smaller companies to expand into new areas of research and scale their operations. The new facilities will help these fast-growing startups better take advantage of these new opportunities and grow here in Lawrence.” 

This project is funded in part through a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.