19 Innovators Complete Launch Blue's UAccel Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2022) — Launch Blue, a nonequity-seeking pre-seed accelerator program that aims to launch nationally competitive startups, completed its fourth UAccel Program cohort this past spring. The UAccel program offers business development and an experiential learning opportunity to innovators in higher education and helps determine the best commercialization path for technologies.

Ten teams representing technology from the University of Kentucky (UK), Northern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University were selected to participate. The 19 innovators participated in the 12-week program culminating in a final presentation.

“We are incredibly proud of this cohort,” said Laura Halligan, executive director of Launch Blue. “Each team made impressive progress over the last 12 weeks and we are excited to continue to support these innovators as their technology moves forward and has a positive impact in the market.”

The following innovators participated:

  • Trey Alexander, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Jamie Studts, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Ming-Yuan Chih, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Chris Gant, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Chad Risko, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Rebekah Duke, University of Kentucky
  • Vinayak Bhat, University of Kentucky
  • Stefan Stamm, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Justin Welden, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Wang-Xia Wang, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Guoqiang Yu, Ph.D., University of Kentucky
  • Kevin Donahue, Ph.D. University of Kentucky
  • Matthew Ruffner, University of Kentucky
  • Michael Sikora, University of Kentucky
  • Nicholas Caporusso, Ph.D., Northern Kentucky University
  • Brett Thaman, Northern Kentucky University
  • Trung Cao, Northern Kentucky University
  • Rachel Tinius, Ph.D., Western Kentucky University
  • Ubaha Shipoke, London Business School

Chad Risko, Ph.D., associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Chemistry and faculty director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, participated in the program with Rebekah Duke and Vinayak Bhat. They focused on a UK technology called ExpFlow, which provides a robust way to store standardized experimental procedures and data for consistent reporting. Integrating ExpFlow into one’s experimental data analysis workflows will allow more time for discovery and less time for experimental reproducibility, data management and data sharing.

“Prior to UAccel, our team really had no experience with customer discovery, nor did we understand how our technology fits within the broader commercial landscape,” said Risko. “The Launch Blue program provided us with a fantastic opportunity to learn and put to practice new skills that we continue to build on as we decide on the best path forward for our technology.”

“We are incredibly proud of the innovators who took the opportunity to learn how to advance their technologies forward for the public good,” said Taunya Phillips, director of UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization. “Also, we continue to be excited by the participation of KCV innovators, who bring diverse and valuable insights to Launch Blue cohort sessions.”

Launch Blue’s next UAccel cohort will be held in the fall and applications open on July 1 with a virtual information session on July 19. Learn more about UAccel, how to apply and information sessions here.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.