GO Topeka, the economic development group for the Greater Topeka Partnership, today announced it partnered with BioRealty, Inc. and closed on multiple properties in downtown Topeka, as part of previously announced $14.5 million innovation campus approved by the Joint Economic Development Organization (JEDO) in May 2021. The new campus is designed to take advantage of the arrival of Plug and Play’s Animal Health / Ag Tech Startup Accelerator program.

The ASTRA (Animal Science, Technology, Research, and Agriculture) Innovation Center will be a 60,000-sf project anchoring a new ASTRA Innovation District in downtown Topeka. The development will repurpose the historic Wolfe’s Camera Shop at 635 S Kansas and will involve two adjacent properties at 633 S Kansas through to 627 S Kansas. Additional partner tenants will be announced at a later date.

This campus will be developed to take advantage of 20 global startups participating each year in the city’s new Plug and Play Animal Health accelerator program. The ASTRA Innovation Center will offer world-class facilities, including wet labs, flexible work and meeting spaces. It will feature office space for business research and innovation, as well as a rooftop venue for events.

“The acquisition of the Wolfe’s Camera property by our partner BioRealty to house Topeka’s Innovation Center is the second big milestone in building Topeka into a hub of innovation in the Animal Health Corridor after attracting Plug and Play,” said Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation, GO Topeka. “I am thrilled that Topeka has chosen to fully subscribe to this vision and I know it will pay huge dividends in the future in terms of higher wage jobs, opportunities for local and regional talent and investments in innovative, futureproof companies.”

“This announcement is transformational for Topeka,” said Duane Cantrell, chair of the Greater Topeka Partnership’s Innovation Advisory Board. “This innovation campus will provide a strategic advantage for Topeka, as the city defines itself as a leader in animal health and ag tech research and development for the region.”

“This will be a fantastic addition to Downtown Topeka,” said Rhiannon Friedman, president of Downtown Topeka, Inc. “When we envision the future of this space, and the entire innovation district itself, we look to what it can do to better serve the startup community and expose new people to the amenities and businesses that Downtown offers them.”

“We are delighted to be working with a terrific partner in Go Topeka to bring a world class innovation center to Downtown Topeka,” said Stan Wendzel, managing director, BioRealty, Inc. “This initial project, which itself will have a very positive long-term impact to the region, is only the beginning step of what we and Go Topeka envision as a large, multi-phase innovation campus or district in Topeka.”

“GO Topeka purchased land at the Kanza Fire Commerce Park in 2009. $1B in capital investment followed, positioning our city to become a leader in supply chain for the Midwest”, said Molly Howey, President of GO Topeka, “The ASTRA Innovation Center has the potential to be equally catalytic.  This center will allow GO Topeka the ability to offer incentivized lease space to start ups and reinforce our influence in the animal health and agriculture technology sectors for years to come.”

The Center is expected to create 20-40 full-time jobs in the coming years, with an anticipated annual economic impact of $8.3 million. Over 10 years, the total economic impact is expected to reach $1.345 billion.

In August 2019, Plug and Play selected Topeka for its first Animal Health and Ag Tech Accelerator Program. Topeka is centrally located within the KC Animal Health Corridor, home to more than 300 animal health companies, representing the largest concentration in the world. In April 2021, Plug and Play selected its first batch of startups for its animal health and ag tech program. Ten early- and mid-stage startups from numerous U.S. states, Canada and Singapore were selected after a pitch competition in March 2021.

About GO Topeka
GO Topeka creates opportunities for economic growth that provide a thriving business climate and fulfilling lifestyle for Topeka and Shawnee County. GO Topeka operates under the Greater Topeka Partnership, the leading economic development agency in the region. https://www.gotopeka.com/

About Greater Topeka
The Greater Topeka area in Shawnee County represents a community of 178,915 people, located in the Greater Kansas City region. As the state capital of Kansas, Topeka is home to a dynamic employer base with headquartered companies including Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Advisors Excel, Security Benefit, Capitol Federal and Evergy. Topeka is proud to be a part of the #KCHeartland.

About the KC Animal Health Corridor
The KC Animal Health Corridor, anchored by Manhattan, Kansas, and Columbia, Missouri, is home to more than 300 animal health companies, representing the largest concentration in the world. KCanimalhealth.com