SmartVet USA, which opened an office three years ago in Olathe to develop a new technique for medicating livestock, plans to begin manufacturing its product by early next year with the help of the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Grant Weyer, CEO of the Australian firm, said Tuesday that a $700,000 loan approved by the authority would support an estimated $6 million investment over the next couple of years in a manufacturing plant. It is expected to employ 51 people by 2016 with an average wage and benefit package of $64,000.
“The loan is a huge help to us and a great sign of commitment by the state of Kansas to innovation,” he said. “It will enable us to scale up and grow to the point of becoming a significant company.”
Weyer said his firm has been developing a method of treating cattle and other livestock. It encapsulates medicines into a gel capsule that can be applied remotely to animals with what’s called a VetGun.
Farmers and ranchers can fire the pingpong-ball-size capsules from 30 feet away. The parasiticide splatters on the animal and is absorbed into its body. Up to 100 cattle an hour can be treated with the technique.
“We’re much more labor efficient and cost effective,” Weyer said.
The authority provided the loan to SmartVet after being convinced the firm had a promising future.
“We saw a great benefit to the animal health sector and an opportunity for a very successful investment,” said Tony Simpson, director of commercialization for the Kansas Bioscience Authority.
Weyer said the firm is reviewing sites to lease for its manufacturing operation in Olathe, Shawnee and Lenexa. Ultimately, the company wants to build its own plant. Production is expected to begin by the first half of next year.