The University of Missouri is opening offices next week to lay the groundwork for the proposed Missouri Innovation Park in Blue Springs.

The University of Missouri is opening offices next week to lay the groundwork for the proposed Missouri Innovation Park in Blue Springs.

“I commend the community for their vision and their determination,” said Steve Wyatt, the university’s new vice provost for economic development.

Wyatt spoke Friday to investors in the Blue Springs Economic Development Corp., which has been promoting the Innovation Park. At the beginning of his presentation, Wyatt held a closing – like signing the papers and handing over payments to move into an apartment – for the opening of university offices. Those open next Thursday in the Heartland Financial Services building on Coronado Drive, next to the Adams Point Golf Course and close to the site of the Innovation Park.

“MU is arriving to Kansas City today,” Wyatt said, drawing applause.

Proponents envision a 150-acre complex in which the university would use its research in areas such as animal sciences and sustainable energy. It would work with companies that want to apply that research to create new products and therefore create good-paying jobs for the area.

Wyatt drove home the point that research creates jobs. The university’s campus in Columbia has plenty of research, he said, but little of an industrial base. Kansas City, however, has that industry, and the university wants to capitalize on that.

“We know that what we do best is research and education and service to the community,” Wyatt said. “What the private sector does best is bring products to market.”

These ideas flow out of what the university calls the “Mizzou Advantage,” five areas in which the university feels it can bring together a range of expertise and resources.

Two of those – sustainable energy and “ One Health, One Medicine: The Convergence of Human and Animal Health” – will figure prominently in plans for the Innovation Park. The others are new media, disruptive and transformational technologies and “Food for the Future.”

“So that’s how the pieces begin to fit together,” Wyatt said. With the offices open, he said, a dialogue with area businesses begin about what they need.

Several parts of the university will set up offices at the Blue Springs site:

 The College of Education, which for example has a program to help businesses gauge how customers are using their Web sites.

 

 The College of Engineering, which has someone on staff to help companies win government contracts.

 

 Human Environmental Science, which will do nutritional education.

 

 The office of the provost, the academic program and the university’s research office.


Brien Starner, president of the Economic Development Corp., stressed that this won’t be a conventional development and that it will take time and patience.

“We’re in the starting gate,” he said, adding that Friday’s announcement of signed office leases means the project is just out of the blocks.

“The challenge is that we’re doing something that’s not been done before, at least not in this area,” Starner said.

Starner also outlined a couple of bills in the Missouri General Assembly that Innovation Park proponents are counting on for such things as funding and said things look good so far for those provisions winning approval this spring.