LAWRENCE — The region’s largest incubator network has added a new member to its leadership team.
The Bioscience & Technology Business Center at the University of Kansas today announced business professional and entrepreneur G.R. Underwood as the organization’s new president and chief operating officer.
Underwood will manage daily operations and implement long-term strategies for the BTBC system, which comprises three facilities housing 29 tenant companies. Underwood will be based out of the BTBC Main Facility, located at 2029 Becker Drive on KU’s west campus. He will report directly to LaVerne Epp, executive chairman of the BTBC.
“I’m thrilled to join the BTBC at KU,” Underwood said. “The BTBC has become a powerful tool for KU and economic development leaders to create new companies and recruit existing ones to Lawrence. I look forward to advancing the BTBC’s mission of growing the economy, creating jobs, increasing the local tax base and stimulating wealth creation in the community.”
The BTBC’s president and chief operating officer position had been vacant since September 2012.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Underwood, who was vice president of client services for the Lawrence Regional Technology Center, the predecessor of the BTBC, from 2007 to 2010. Underwood has spent the past three years in Austin, Texas, where he co-founded and served as CEO of a University of Texas spinout company specializing in software for the oil and gas industry.
In his role, Underwood will work closely with University of Kansas Innovation and Collaboration, the office that manages entrepreneurship, commercialization and technology transfer activity for the university.
“Recruiting and creating companies in the life sciences and technology industries continues to be a top priority for the BTBC at KU,” said Epp. “We love the value G.R. brings in these areas, specifically his experience in spinning off a successful startup company based on university technology. That’s exactly the type of work he can do here in Lawrence. There are 24 active startup companies based on KU research, and we think G.R. can help add to that number.”
Underwood received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Oklahoma in 2006. He received a bachelor’s degree in business from OU in 2000.
Underwood and his wife, Dr. Leslie Underwood, have two children: a 3-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son. Leslie will begin work as an obstetrics and gynecology physician at Lawrence Memorial Hospital in January.
“My wife and I couldn't be more excited to return to the region,” Underwood said. “It’s a great city with friendly people and a personality all its own. Not to mention an incredible amount of high-tech research, resources and human capital that has the potential to turn the area into a first-class hub of technology commercialization.”