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Midwest Research Institute Expands in Kansas to Support Regional Economic Development in Animal Health, Biosecurity, and Bioenergy Sectors

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One of the nation's leading independent research institutes is expanding in Kansas as the region's scientific assets align to support the critical mission of protecting the American food supply and to develop urgently needed bioenergy solutions.

Officials at Midwest Research Institute (MRI) announced today that they are expanding MRI's existing operations by establishing a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute that will be named Midwest Research Institute-Kansas, LLC, and headquartered in Manhattan, Kan., at the Manhattan/K-State Innovation Center. The new subsidiary will support economic development opportunities in the animal health, biosecurity, and advanced energy business sectors, areas of common interest that MRI officials have collaborated on with leaders from Kansas State University (K-State) and the state of Kansas for several years.

"This is an important day in MRI history," said James L. Spigarelli, MRI President and CEO. "Establishing a physical presence in Kansas in addition to the Institute's strong and historic presence in Missouri will enable MRI to significantly strengthen its support of vital scientific research in our bi-state region. We look forward to many new opportunities ahead."

"Research and development in animal health, biosecurity and advanced energy are important areas that will drive economic development for our state," said Kansas Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson. "We are very pleased that MRI, with nationally recognized expertise in these areas, has chosen to expand in Kansas. The Institute's presence here and in Missouri will create new opportunities to leverage the strength of a bi-state approach in solving critical national challenges."

Spigarelli also announced that Michael F. Helmstetter will serve as President of Midwest Research Institute-Kansas, LLC. Helmstetter is Executive Vice President and Director of Research Operations at MRI and will become President and CEO on October 1, 2009, following Spigarelli's retirement which was announced earlier this year.

MRI has a strong heritage that began 65-years ago when civic leaders established MRI in Kansas City, Mo., as a scientific research institute to support industry and create jobs for the region. From its beginning, MRI has supported the region, including both sides of the Kansas and Missouri state line, with innovations and technology development that have made the Institute one of the nation's leading independent research institutes in the areas of national security and defense, energy and environment, agriculture and food safety and the life sciences. MRI also has labs in Florida and Maryland and has managed and operated the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in Golden, Colo., for the U.S. Department of Energy since its inception in 1977.

"MRI has forged strong working relationships with leaders at K-State and the state of Kansas, both the state and federal level, that have resulted in promising economic development opportunities in three of MRI's largest growth sectors - animal health, biosecurity, and energy," Helmstetter said. "We commend the support and leadership of our Kansas constituents who are making these opportunities a reality."

According to Helmstetter, Midwest Research Institute-Kansas, LLC, will begin with a focus in three key areas:

  • Animal Health Research - Midwest Research Institute-Kansas, LLC, will initially focus on animal health research efforts to support the region's animal health corridor with new developments in nutrition, medicines and the commercialization of related technology and health products.
  • Biosecurity - MRI and K-State are forming a new collaborative entity to facilitate research relevant to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) that will be built on the K-State campus. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced their decision to locate NBAF in Manhattan in January 2009. The facility is not expected to be fully operational until 2015, but it is critical to the nation's security that the NBAF mission gets underway before then. This new MRI-K-State venture will focus on jump-starting NBAF research, development, testing, and evaluation at K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute and on providing biocontainment management and operations services under an agreement with the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA).
  • Advanced Energy R&D - With its extensive background in renewable energy research, MRI will align the new Midwest Research Institute-Kansas, LLC, with K-State's energy research and those of its commercialization arm, the National Institute for Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization (NISTAC), to collaborate on advanced energy research and accelerate technology commercialization. MRI, K-State and Burns & McDonnell recently signed a "Biotroleum Alliance" to develop and deploy alternative energy technologies geared toward carbon mitigation and energy efficiency.

"The synergies between K-State and MRI are powerful," said Ron Trewyn, K-State's Vice President for Research. "By collaborating and working together, we will have the capability to seamlessly move new discoveries, whether they are in animal health, biosecurity, or energy, from basic research through development to the commercialization and deployment of new technologies and products that will protect and benefit society. We are very pleased that MRI chose the K-State Research Park for their Kansas subsidiary."

"The NBAF is one of the single most significant accomplishments we have achieved in recent years to stimulate economic development and to highlight our national bioscience leadership in key sectors," said Tom Thornton, President and CEO of KBA. "This was made possible by the teamwork of many players, including MRI, whose expertise in biosecurity, biosafety, and national laboratory management will be invaluable as we accelerate research efforts to protect the American food supply."

MRI plans to open its subsidiary office in the Manhattan/K-State Innovation Center in early April.

About Midwest Research Institute

MRI, a not-for-profit scientific research organization with 1,800 employees nationwide, performs contract research and laboratory consulting services for clients in government, industry, and academia. Established in 1944, MRI is one of the nation's leading independent research institutes conducting research in the areas of national security and defense, energy and environment, life sciences, food and agriculture, and transportation safety. With headquarters in Kansas City, MRI also has facilities in Palm Bay, Fla., Frederick, Md., and Rockville, Md. MRI is one of the two entities in the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, that manages and operates the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit

SOURCE Midwest Research Institute
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