Ventria gets $4 million grant

This story originally appeared on the site and in The Wichita Eagle on July 17, 2008.

Ventria Bioscience has received nearly $4 million from the Kansas Bioscience Authority to help advance the human health and biomaterials sectors in Kansas.

Ventria grows and processes a bioengineered rice that yields a protein that can be refined and used as an additive to oral rehydration solutions to decrease the severity and duration of infant and childhood diarrhea.

It has rice-growing operations in Kansas, North Carolina and South America. Processing has been consolidated into its manufacturing facility in Junction City.

Ventria was awarded a $3.75 million convertible loan as part of a $7.5 million financing plan that will help it expand operations, increase employment, expand production and prepare for the commercial launch of its product.

The Kansas Bioscience Authority was created in 2004 to foster the development of the bioscience industry in Kansas.

Greg Unruh, manager of Ventria's Junction City operations, said the support from KBA comes at the right time.

"This will help us keep our production moving along and keep everything on track for the launch of the product into the mainstream market," Unruh said.

He said Ventria will continue formulation and market testing through this season and expects its protein powders to be on grocery store shelves some time in 2009.

Other recipients of Kansas Bioscience Authority funding, announced at the KBA's annual meeting this week in Overland Park, were:

  • KCBioMediX of DeSoto, which gets $400,000 to commercialize technologies for the care of premature infants. The technology, named the NTrainer System, was developed at the University of Kansas. The award follows a KBA award of $150,000 last fall and is part of a $4 million funding package.
  • VasoGeniz Pharmaceuticals of Lenexa, which was approved for $200,000 to help develop a patented controlled-release drug for the treatment of heart failure. The company will match the KBA funding with private investment.
  • MGP Ingredients of Atchison will get $500,000 to develop and further commercialize biobased and biodegradable resins to economically replace plastic. The resin can be used for disposable cutlery, DVD cases and bottle caps.
  • In other business at the meeting, the KBA also re-elected three directors: Sandra Lawrence, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics; Bill Sanford, chairman of Symark LLC; and Ed McKechnie, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Watco Cos.