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The University of Louisville and partners will lead an effort to bring technologies born at Kentucky universities to market, thanks to $1.16 million in support announced by Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday.
The effort, Kentucky Commercialization Ventures (KCV), is a collaboration between UofL, the University of Kentucky and Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. (KSTC). Together, they will provide expertise, training and other support to help Kentucky colleges and universities get their inventions off campus and into the hands of entrepreneurs and industry.
“The University of Louisville has long been a leader in driving innovative, research-backed technologies to the marketplace,” said UofL President Neeli Bendapudi. “Through this new venture, we can extend our vast proven experience, knowledge and success to institutions around the Commonwealth, working with them to accelerate economic development and the commercialization of technologies that could save lives and improve the way we live and work.”
In getting university-born technologies to market, KCV’s goal is to boost Kentucky’s position as a technology hub, spurring economic development and new tech-backed startups. Connecting all the state’s schools also is expected to strengthen the state’s position to compete for grants and other federal funding that support innovative companies.
“We all want to grow Kentucky’s tech sector and create the high-paying, knowledge-based jobs that follow,” Beshear said. “A big part of doing so is turning Kentucky’s own academic research and development capabilities into commercially viable products and startups. By partnering to create Kentucky Commercialization Ventures, we will provide the infrastructure to commercialize our own best ideas, build the commonwealth’s tech industry and distinguish Kentucky as a national model in innovation.”
Under recently signed contracts, Kentucky will pay $200,000 to each of UofL’s and UK’s research foundations over the next two fiscal years, and $755,000 to KSTC this fiscal year.
At UofL, KCV will be led by the Office of Research and Innovation’s Commercialization EPI-Center, which works with startups and industry to commercialize university-owned technologies. Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation, said KCV is an opportunity to expand on other UofL efforts in this area, such as its suite of innovation grant and training programs that support technology and product development.
“This builds on UofL’s existing work to boost entrepreneurship and get cutting-edge, university-born technologies to market,” Gardner said. “With KCV, we can leverage those past successes and earned expertise to help other Kentucky colleges and universities do the same, driving economic development across the Commonwealth.”
The EPI-Center will have an in-house KCV commercialization manager, Megan Aanstoos, who will work directly with inventors and institutions across the state to develop innovative ideas and inventions into marketable products with established business models. UofL also will have a faculty or administration champion who will work directly with the faculty, staff and students at large.
“We are very excited to work with our sister institutions to drive commercialization in Kentucky,” said EPI-Center executive director Allen Morris.