Animal health effort in Kansas and Missouri notes 10 years

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KANSAS CITY, Mo., AP) — The Animal Health Corridor that stretches 300 miles in Kansas and Missouri has attracted more than 300 companies in 10 years to do research and develop animal health products, supporters said.

Nearly 1,000 people are expected to gather in Kansas City for an anniversary dinner Monday night and an investor showcase Tuesday for the corridor, which goes from Manhattan, Kansas, to Columbia, Missouri, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/1ieOj61).
The corridor has become “the Silicon Valley for animal health research and development,” said Sam Al-Murrani, interim CEO of Prommune Inc., a startup working on swine and avian flu vaccines that is relocating to Overland Park, Kansas, from Omaha, Nebraska.
The companies work on projects and products as varied as controlling odor in litter boxes, earlier identification of sick cattle and developing treatments, drugs and diagnostics for animals. The companies represent 75 percent of the worldwide sales of animal health products and diagnostics €– about $19 billion, according to the 2014 Animal Health Corridor Asset Survey by Axxiom Consulting.
Several of the businesses are partnered with universities and research institutions in the corridor, which includes MRI Global, the Stowers Institute and veterinary schools at Kansas State University and the University of Missouri and one-person startups.
“The strength of the corridor is keeping graduates here who want to stay in animal health,” Al-Murrani said.
Seventeen animal health companies are slated to present business plans and technologies to potential investors fur the dinner and forum.
Supporters acknowledge the success could fade if they can’t keep skilled workers and increase interest in science, particularly animal health.
“We need a science-literate population,” said Ian Spinks, president and general manager of with Bayer Healthcare’s Animal Health Division, North America, in Shawnee, Kansas. “We need interest in the vet schools to continue to grow. We need to grow the skill sets necessary for these science jobs.”
To that end, the Animal Health Corridor will introduce initiatives Monday to raise animal science awareness among pre-college students and to help agriculture-oriented associations foster interest in animal health careers.
Some corridor participants also said the recent gutting of the Kansas Biosciences Authority, a state-sponsored venture capital fund, was a setback. Created in 2004, the KBA spurred bioscience development in Kansas and helped Kansas land the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. But chronic underfunding by the state led the KBA to lay off much of its staff this year and stop making new investments.
Al-Murrani said, “we’re back to square one when it comes to funding in Kansas. You survive on your wits and try to make the right impression with investors.”
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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com.