Western’s Science and Technology Incubator announced its first tenant to be Imulan BioTherapeutics Friday Nov. 7. The privately held bioscience company is relocating to St. Joseph from Prescott, Ariz., to use the resources made available by the Incubator and the community to further its research in animal health.
Included in community resources is $500,000 in economic development funds provided by Buchanan County over a five-year span. The company brings with it opportunities for students to obtain real world experiences, internships and eventually jobs.
Imulan’s CEO Craig Woods said the decision to move to St. Joseph included several key items.
“Obviously the concentration on animal health in the area was a big factor,” Woods said. “All the roads lead to Kansas City in animal health.”
Gary Clapp, president and CEO for the Institute for Industrial and Applied Life Sciences at Western, said Wes Remington, the Western benefactor for whom the new Remington math and science building is named, first contacted him about Imulan after reading an article about the company’s research and products. That same week after Remington’s call, Clapp received a second call to look at the company from Lynn Parman, vice president of life sciences and technology of the Kansas City Area Development Council.
“This was a great opportunity to initiate this Incubator with a tenant who already has some products on the market,” Clapp said.
Clapp said the Incubator would work with Imulan on an emerging firm basis. The company has already released products approved with a conditional license from the United States Department of Agriculture to treat the Feline Leukemia Virus and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus infections. Clapp said the company has been virtually working out of its basement and the move will help it expand and give the company a place to call home.
He said Woods wanted to move back to Missouri and after working with Parman they decided on St. Joseph after some discussion.
Woods said the company chose St. Joseph because it was ideal for what they wanted to achieve. Originally from Lee’s Summit, Mo., Woods is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Woods said that over the course of five years, the company hopes to employ at least several dozen personnel from the surrounding community.
Woods also said he will be meeting with department chairs in December to discuss rotations with the company. He hopes to provide opportunities to students with life science interests and possibly even marketing students so they can gain hands on experiences with the real world.
Clapp said the Incubator is a great interface between the work force and students.
“We’re asking for internships and we’ll try to fold students in when positions become available,” Clapp said. “With this Incubator we will continue to try to engage the students.”
Gordon Mapley, dean of the Western Institute, works very closely with Clapp on the Incubator.
“I’m very much interested in working together to advance the economy of the region,” Mapley said. “The Incubator is a very wonderful thing that provides many educational opportunities to students.”
Mapley worked with another Incubator when he was the executive director of institutional research and policy analysis at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Mapley said while he was there, he saw the incubator’s young businesses blossom into full-fledged companies and wants to see the same for Western.
“I was very interested in working with Clapp and hopeful to see the same positive outcomes with the community with this young incubator,” Mapley said.
Woods said they gave a lot of consideration to being the first tenant in the Incubator.
“We were delighted and fought the race against time to be the first,” Woods said. “The Incubator’s relationship with the university was a pivotal decision.”
Clapp said there are currently approximately seven other potential tenants inquiring about occupying space in the Incubator but only two, Clapp said, seem serious.
The Christopher S. “Kit” Bond Incubator as noted in its mission statement is devoted to “nurture start-up and emerging technologies, promote economic development in Missouri and facilitate transfer of technology from the university lab bench to the commercial production line.” The Incubator opened in June 2008 on university-owned property on Mitchell Avenue.