Gov. Andy Beshear announced Tuesday the creation of Kentucky Commercialization Ventures (KCV), a new public-private partnership unique in the U.S. that aims to develop academic innovations into job-creating tech companies.
“We all want to grow Kentucky’s tech sector and create the high-paying, knowledge-based jobs that follow. A big part of doing so is turning Kentucky’s own academic research and development capabilities into commercially viable products and startups,” the governor said. “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.”
KCV brings together the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corp. (KSTC) and KY Innovation, the state’s office for entrepreneurial and small business support. Under recently signed contracts, Kentucky this fiscal year will pay KSTC $755,000 and over the next two fiscal years $200,000 to each of UofL’s and UK’s research foundations.
The partnership leverages UK and UofL’s commercialization offices, KSTC’s history of managing innovation programs and KY Innovation’s statewide entrepreneurship resources.
KCV also partners with Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University and the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. No other state’s commercialization program combines the strength of all its public higher education institutions. That makes KCV unique and better positioned to compete for federal grants that support forward-thinking companies and entrepreneurs.
KCV and its team of commercialization experts will work with innovators at these institutions to provide resources to develop marketable products, services and businesses from research findings and intellectual property. As well, they will assist with intellectual property protection, licensing of products and services, and creating connections with industry partners.
“This collaboration will be pivotal in building Kentucky’s future economy,” said David Brock, operations director for KY Innovation within the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. “KCV provides the tools and expertise to launch tech startups and grow new jobs. Success here will lead to future attraction of researchers, innovators, students and research dollars.”
KCV will be led by an executive director, and staff will include an intellectual property director – both to be named at a later date – based at KSTC in Lexington. The partnership will include two program managers – located at UK and UofL – working directly with inventors at institutions statewide. Each university will also dedicate a faculty or administration champion to work directly with faculty, staff and students. KCV partners will also provide entrepreneurial and immersive student experiences in the innovation and commercialization process.
KSTC brings decades of experience working with university researchers, entrepreneurs and startups to help them develop and commercialize their ideas. KSTC President Terry Samuel said the partnership will breathe new life into the entrepreneurial landscape statewide.
“KCV will energize collaboration and commercialization of ideas and inventions from and between our state universities,” Samuel said.
UK President Eli Capilouto said the partnership reinforces the university’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Kentucky makes us the heartbeat of the state’s economy,” Capilouto said. “Kentucky Commercialization Ventures empowers us to work collaboratively with our sister institutions and strengthen our state’s economic development pipeline. This venture underscores our commitment to transform the creative research and development on our campus into tangible solutions benefitting our communities.”
UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said KCV will concentrate the university’s expertise in areas that could change the future economy.
“The University of Louisville has long been a leader in driving innovative, research-backed technologies to the marketplace,” Bendapudi said. “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.”
Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, commended everyone involved for creating the partnership.
“Kentucky colleges and universities are some of the largest economic engines in the commonwealth, and campuses are eager to unite their resources and expertise in support of entrepreneurs,” Dr. Thompson said. “While this partnership will focus on developing and commercializing new products and services, it will also galvanize our state’s economy by encouraging some of our best and brightest to remain here as they build businesses. I want to thank Governor Beshear, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes and the many leaders from education, business and technology who are spearheading this project with vision and innovation.”