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

Mon, 02/10/2014

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.



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUfacts : There are 30+ tenant companies in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at KU. http://t.co/PqeeY5r16W #growKS
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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