Alumnus Clay Blair makes $100,000 gift for KU Venture Fund

Mon, 02/10/2014

Contact

KU Endowment
785-832-7398

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas alumnus Clay C. Blair III, of Olathe, has made a $100,000 gift for the KU Venture Fund. The university and KU Endowment established the fund to help startup companies move research discoveries from KU into the marketplace with the goal of sparking innovation in Kansas. This is the largest gift for the fund to date.

“Encouraging KU faculty to transition their ideas to their real-world economic conclusion is long overdue,” said Blair. “Faculty can and should be risk-taking entrepreneurs. Why not? Startups don’t have to take much money to see if it works.  They and their university should benefit from their hard work.”

Blair, a real estate developer in Johnson County and owner of Clay Blair Services Corp., previously served as the first chair of the Kansas Bioscience Authority and as chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. He earned two degrees from KU — a bachelor’s in business administration in 1965 and a doctorate in higher education policy and administration in 1969. He also earned an MBA from Indiana University in 1966.

Julie Goonewardene, president of KU Innovation and Collaboration, and KU associate vice chancellor for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, expressed appreciation for Blair’s generosity.

“I am personally and professionally grateful to Clay for this gift,” Goonewardene said. “Gifts like his represent a win on every front. They provide much-needed early stage capital for KU startups, enabling them to become ready for traditional investment, provide support to our increasingly successful economic development and commercialization efforts, provide sustainability for the fund and the potential for a financial upside for the university. The fact that someone of Clay’s business acumen would support our philanthropic venture is gratifying.”

The mission of the KU Venture Fund is to provide financing and other assistance to enable KU startup companies to become investment-ready and competitive. This will create new products for the marketplace, additional revenue for the university and economic development for the region.

In 2013, KU Innovation and Collaboration became the new name of what had been known as the KU Center for Technology Commercialization. The new name signifies a greater emphasis on innovation and collaboration. Known as KUIC, it focuses on creating corporate partnerships, starting companies, licensing intellectual property and establishing research relationships with foundations. The ultimate goal is to bring KU innovation to the marketplace in ways that benefit people and change the world. KUIC provides essential capital to get KU startups off the ground before they are ready for traditional investment vehicles.

The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.

The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.



KU in the news
Christian Science MonitorThu, 08/21/2014
Columbia Journalism ReviewThu, 08/21/2014
This past week, new Jayhawks moved in and started their first semester at KU. Madisen Pool, a freshman in computer engineering, captured one of his first sunrises on the Hill. With a fresh start, and a feeling of accomplishment for starting college, Pool thought this view was a great reminder to enjoy life. We asked Pool what his advice would be to his fellow new Jayhawks and he said, "make your time here at the university memorable. Have fun, do something you’ve always wanted to do, meet new people, and most importantly get the most out of your experience and shape your life the way you want it to be. Rock Chalk!" We couldn't agree more. Rock Chalk, Madisen! Show us your new experiences with the hashtag, #exploreKU.

KU student tricks monkey flower into growing protective ‘hair’ Thanks to a KU Undergraduate Research Award (see more at http://ugresearch.ku.edu/student/fund/ugra), Sukhindervir Sandhu, a KU junior in biochemistry, figured out which genetic button to push to get a monkey flower, or Mimulus guttatus, to grow protective trichomes, or plant hair. Sandhu was able to track it down to a gene called SKP-1. By silencing SKP-1, he discovered that gene regulates plant hair growth in monkey flowers.


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
1 of 9 public universities with outstanding study abroad programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
$260.5 million in externally funded research expenditures
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times