Latest grant gives UofL trifecta in efforts to commercialize research

by John Karman

The University of Louisville has received a three-year, $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create an Innovation Corps Site to strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the region and nationally through networking and training opportunities.

I-Corps sites support researchers working to move their technology into the marketplace by providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding.

With this new award, UofL becomes the only university in the country to receive three of the most prestigious innovation-associated awards – the NSF I-Corps, National Institutes of Health Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) and Coulter Translational Research Partnership grants. All three support the translation of research into viable commercial products. UofL announced the REACH award last week. It received the Coulter grant in 2011.

Given their shared goals, all three programs will work together to establish UofL as a world leader in innovation.

“The I-Corps grant further advances UofL’s efforts to aid researchers in bringing discoveries to the marketplace,” said William Pierce Jr., executive vice president for research and innovation. “Already having received Coulter and REACH awards, we feel like we’ve hit the trifecta.”

Goals of the UofL I-Corps project include strengthening Kentucky’s high-tech industries, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and creating a group of researchers and graduates who can translate innovations to the market and foster business development.  The UofL I-Corps Site program is a multidisciplinary partnership between the J.B. Speed School of Engineering and the College of Business’s Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The UofL I-Corps Site will provide a catalyst for STEM entrepreneurial discovery and business development, which will stimulate the creation and growth of new, high-tech industries and higher paying jobs, while at the same time developing the entrepreneurial infrastructure of the state,” said Robert Keynton, Lutz Endowed Chair for Biomechanical Devices and chairman of the Department of Bioengineering in the Speed School. Keynton is principal investigator and Forcht Center director Van Clouse is co-principal investigator on the I-Corps grant.