KU News Release
Nov. 15, 2011
Contact: Joe Monaco, KU News Service, 785-864-7100
Assurant Employee Benefits becomes seventh tenant at BTBC Main Facility
Bioscience and Technology Business Center
LAWRENCE — The Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas (BTBC at KU) Main Facility has landed its seventh tenant – and this time, it’s a Fortune 500 company.
Assurant Employee Benefits, a division of insurance leader Assurant, will lease space at the BTBC Main Facility specifically to establish a year-round internship program with the KU School of Engineering. As part of the program, the company will hire between six and eight students from the school’s computer science and computer engineering degree programs to help develop industry-specific IT applications.
Assurant Employee Benefits will move into its BTBC Main Facility office Jan. 1.
Tim Bachta, application development director for Assurant Employee Benefits, said the company chose to partner with the School of Engineering because of positive experiences with KU graduates and interns.
“Assurant Employee Benefits is located in Kansas City, Mo., so we considered other Midwestern schools,” Bachta said. “However, the University of Kansas was the obvious choice because of the experiences we’ve had with KU interns and graduates in the past. KU engineering students are so well-rounded. And once we chose Lawrence, the BTBC Main Facility was easily the best location, thanks to its new space, its business support services and its location on the KU bus route. This is an ideal setup.”
Assurant – ranked No. 285 on this year’s Fortune 500 listing – becomes the second BTBC tenant to establish an internship program with the School of Engineering, joining navigation leader Garmin. Other tenants include Gyrasol Technologies, a molecular diagnostics and drug testing company; 360 Energy Engineers, an engineering and energy management firm; BrightEHR, an electronic health records company; Sunlite Science and Technology, a producer of LED products; and Propylon, a producer of legislative software systems.
Once Assurant moves in, the BTBC Main Facility – one of three buildings in the BTBC system – will be 75 percent full and house 60 employees.
“The BTBC at KU system continues to attract a range of companies, whether they’re KU startups, early-stage companies or Fortune 500 companies like Assurant,” said Matthew McClorey, president of the BTBC at KU system. “The fact that Assurant Employee Benefits chose to come here speaks volumes about KU students and the BTBC as a system for building companies. This is exactly what we envisioned when we created the BTBC – companies coming here to access university talent that doesn’t exist anywhere else. In this case, that talent is School of Engineering students.”
While many companies often buy off-the-shelf information technologies, Bachta said, Assurant’s IT needs are specific enough that they require custom applications. Assurant Employee Benefits is widely regarded as a leader in the creation of insurance industry-specific IT solutions.
Bachta said the company’s initial plans don’t include collaboration with KU researchers, but he didn’t rule it out in the future.
“Being in the BTBC Main Facility, surrounded by all these technology companies and near KU researchers, is a different environment for us,” he said. “You never know where it might lead.”
The School of Engineering continues to be a draw for BTBC tenants. In addition to Assurant and Garmin, tenants Propylon and 360 Engineers also cited access to the school as a reason they chose the BTBC.
“This is a win-win for the School of Engineering and Assurant Employee Benefits,” said Stuart Bell, dean of the KU School of Engineering. “By establishing this internship program, the company has access to some of the nation’s best computer science and engineering students. Meanwhile, our students get to work with a Fortune 500 company right here in Lawrence. It’s an ideal industry-university partnership. We’re so proud that companies are coming to Lawrence just to work with our students.”
About the BTBC at KU
The BTBC at KU 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. The BTBC system was launched in August 2010 and comprises three facilities: the Main Facility, located on the KU campus at 2029 Becker Drive; the Expansion Facility, located at 4950 Research Parkway; and the BTBC at KUMC facility, located at 2002 W. 39th Ave. in Kansas City, Kan. The three buildings combine for nearly 70,000 square feet in office and lab space. Below is a summary of the buildings’ occupancy data.
• BTBC Main Facility
(60 employees – 75 percent full)
• 360 Energy Engineers – engineering and energy management
• Assurant – insurance products and services
• BrightEHR – electronic health records
• Garmin – navigation and communication devices
• Gyrasol – drug development
• Propylon –software systems for state legislatures
• Sunlite Science and Technology – specialty LED products
• BTBC Expansion Facility
(8 employees – 33 percent full)
• CritiTech – drug delivery
• Mencuro – drug development
• KUMC Facility
(13 employees – 53 percent full)
• Aptakon – next-generation antibody substitutes
• Orbis Biosciences – controlled-release delivery technology
• OsteoGeneX – orally administered therapeutics
• EON Labs – plasma reactor technology
About Assurant Employee Benefits
Assurant Employee Benefits specializes in quality employee benefits and services, including long-term and short-term disability, life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance, dental coverage and disability reinsurance management services. Assurant Employee Benefits is part of Assurant, a premier provider of specialized insurance products and related services in North America and select worldwide markets. A Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500, Assurant has nearly $27 billion in assets and $8 billion in annual revenue.
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