Bioscience innovation is heating up in Wichita – and state, county and city economic development groups are providing a key ingredient for its growth: strategic funding.
Cargill Innovation Center
The $15 million 75,000-square-foot Cargill Innovation Center opened in summer 2012 in downtown Wichita, a state-of-the-art facility funded with a $750,000 contribution from the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
The center houses the company’s only research, development and marketing center designed specifically for its meat products. It includes room-size mock-ups of meat counters, a home kitchen, and two different types of restaurants – all built to mimic real-world scenarios and aid in testing safety processes – cooking up new products and presenting them to potential customers. Along with meat processing facilities that test how products fare during handling, cooking and consumption, the center also features a seasoning mixing facility and chemical and biological labs for testing and analyzing meat and meat products.
The facility solidifies Cargill’s commitment to cutting-edge bioscience and to Wichita, says Mike Martin, Cargill director of communication.
“The CIC in Wichita is designed to be a discovery zone where Cargill and its customers collaborate to create solutions for the retail and foodservice sectors,” Martin says. “Whether it’s a packaging solution, new product development, food safety improvements, quality assurance or myriad of other areas, we have professionals who can make things happen and get results that meet or exceed our customers’ expectations.”
JCB Laboratories Expands
Another bioscience success story in Wichita is JCB Laboratories, a leading supplier of specialized sterile pharmaceutical compounds to medical facilities and clinical research operations. The firm recently tripled its square footage to house its growing administrative offices and add clean room space for manufacturing its injectable products.
“We’ve added 12 new jobs in the past 12 months, and we’ve invested more than $700,000 in new equipment and renovations at our production facility,” says Bryan Williamson, JCB Laboratories CEO.
Along with $225,000 from the Kansas Bioscience Authority, the company received incentives from the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, Sedgwick County and the City of Wichita to increase its production capability. The support of the local community, along with the state's growing reputation as a bioscience pioneer, played a key role in the company's decision to expand in Wichita, Williamson says.
“GWEDC was helpful and easy to work with in support of our expansion and the creation of new jobs in Wichita,” he says. “The same is true for Sedgwick County and the Kansas Bioscience Authority. They realized what we were creating was beneficial to the state – and they made substantial commitments. We couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”
Alpha BioSystems Spurs Ag Innovation
Wichita-based Alpha BioSystems is mixing up a different sort of bioscience concoction. The company’s all-natural microbial and bacterial blends, created with a proprietary fermentation process, are designed for a variety of applications in agriculture, gardening, water treatment, industry and pet care.
Among the company’s primary products is Terra-One Grower’s Blend, which improves soil fertility for larger crop applications, and THRIVE, a microbial concoction that stimulates plant growth for gardeners. Other Alpha BioSystems products help manage agricultural and animal waste.