LAWRENCE — The Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas (BTBC at KU) Main Facility has secured its sixth tenant.
Gyrasol Technologies, a molecular diagnostics and drug testing company, has relocated from Santa Fe, N.M., to the BTBC Main Facility on KU’s west campus. Gyrasol brings two employees and just this week hired two more scientists – both KU graduates – who will begin work this month. The company plans to add as many as 12 additional positions within two years.
Gyrasol specializes in technologies that help predict which drugs will work for cancer patients. The company’s chief science officer, Frauke Rininsland, has invented and patented a sensing system that detects how a cell’s signaling network is changed in cancer. With this information, doctors can select those drugs that interact with the faulty signaling targets and test the efficiency of a treatment outside the body — before subjecting patients to costly and potentially harmful treatments.
Gyrasol will work closely with the High Throughput Screening Laboratory, the Ralph N. Adams Institute for Bioanalytical Chemistry, and the Bioinformatics Center at KU, as well as KU researchers in medicinal chemistry, oncology and pharmacology. The company will also utilize student interns from KU.
Gyrasol becomes the sixth company to lease space in the BTBC Main Facility since it opened in summer 2010. Other tenants include 360 Energy Engineers, an engineering and energy management firm; Garmin, a global leader in navigation and communication devices; BrightEHR, an electronic health records company; Sunlite Science and Technology, a producer of specialty LED products; and Propylon, a producer of software systems for state legislatures.
“We’re excited to welcome Gyrasol as our sixth tenant,” said Matthew McClorey, executive director of the BTBC. “The fact that we recruited a cutting-edge biotechnology company to move from New Mexico to Kansas speaks well of the BTBC’s unique assets.”
Gyrasol has leased 720 square feet of space in the BTBC, with access to shared facilities and services. The 21,400-square-foot Main Facility is now 66 percent leased and houses 52 total employees.
Gyrasol president and CEO Susan Burgess – who earned her PhD in pharmacology from KU in 1980 – cited the BTBC’s facilities, its access to KU resources, and the financial support network provided by the BTBC and its partners in the decision to Lawrence. She said Gyrasol considered other locations, including San Diego, but decided Kansas is “at the exciting end of the growth curve.”
“The BTBC at KU – and more broadly, the state of Kansas – is on the front end of some big things in biotechnology and entrepreneurship,” said Burgess, who has founded or co-founded four bioscience companies, including Gyrasol. “We were looking for a strong intellectual environment and a strong financial support system, and we found both in Kansas. There’s so much upside to being here.”
Burgess said she first learned of the BTBC at KU earlier this year while visiting Lawrence for her father’s birthday.
“As a KU grad, I knew about KU’s great research expertise in pharmaceutical sciences, but I was unaware of all the recent activity on west campus, including the BTBC, the Multidisciplinary Research Building and the new School of Pharmacy,” she said. “When I saw all of that, I knew we would want to further explore bringing the company here.”
In May, Burgess and Rininsland visited with McClorey and LaVerne Epp, president of the Lawrence Douglas County Bioscience Authority (LDCBA), as well as Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship at KU, and key academic collaborators. Burgess and Rininsland quickly became convinced that Lawrence provided the environment that would support Gyrasol’s growth plans. With funding assistance from the LDCBA and Douglas County Development Inc. and support from the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, they soon began the process of moving operations from Santa Fe to Lawrence.
“We’re appreciate the organizations that facilitated this relocation, including the LDCBA and Douglas County Development Inc., which provided funding assistance,” Burgess said. “The name ‘Gyrasol’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘sunflower.’ Now, Gyrasol is firmly planted in rich Kansas soil.”
“This is a great example of economic development organizations partnering with a world-class research university to work with industry,” said Goonewardene. “With assets like the BTBC, we’ll continue to collaborate with business to create jobs and grow the Kansas economy.”
The BTBC provides state-of-the-art wet lab and office space; access to KU resources and research expertise; and business support services such as capital-raising and consulting services from incubator staff. The BTBC system consists of three facilities: the Main Facility, located on the KU campus at 2029 Becker Drive; the Expansion Facility, located near the KU campus at 4950 Research Parkway; and a third facility on the KUMC campus that will be formally dedicated Sept. 27.
The BTBC is a partnership of the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority, Lawrence Regional Technology Center, University of Kansas, City of Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas Bioscience Authority and Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
Gyrasol Technologies contact:
President and CEO
BTBC at KU contact:
BTBC Executive Director and LRTC President and CEO
Assistant Communications Director