Topeka approves $5.9M for innovation campus, locking in key funding for animal health, ag hub

Plans to create an innovation campus in the heart of downtown Topeka are driving forward after a key economic development agency green-lit more than $5.9 million for the project. 

“This approval shows that Topeka is all in when it comes to investing into our entrepreneurs and innovators,” Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation at GO Topeka, told Startland News after Wednesday’s approval by the city’s Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO). 

“I am happy to say that with this commitment by JEDO we will have most of the funding in place to launch the campus,” she added, noting designs and contracts can now be finalized and construction could begin by the end of the year. 

“We can now turn our attention to developing additional tools that will help make our startups successful, in terms of mentorship programs [and] incentive and loan programs. I want to make sure that we invest our dollars where we can have the biggest long term impact in the community.”

The proposed,  $13-million innovation campus is expected to span nearly 70,000 square feet and is set to boast wet lab, coworking, event and meeting spaces, as well as private office suites for innovation-focused companies at all stages.  

The site will also serve as the home of GO Topeka’s Wheelhouse Incubator program, Bridges said. 

“The innovation campus will be the hub where entrepreneurs will have access to resources, mentors, service providers. … We also have a strong offering for minority- and women-owned businesses and those programs will be housed there as well. What’s important is that GO Topeka does not need to run every program in Topeka; With the innovation campus, we are creating the space for innovative programs by different providers.”

Click here to learn more about the project and Bridges’ quest to build an innovative and entrepreneurial mecca in Shawnee County, or here to connect with Bridges.