UK Office of Technology Commercialization, Partners Receive RISE Grant from KY CED

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2018) — The University of Kentucky's Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) will be managing UK's role under the Regional Innovation for Startups and Entrepreneurs (RISE) initiative. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is investing $750,000 to support startups and entrepreneurs in Lexington and Central Kentucky under this initiative. The award creates a consortium which will be led by the Awesome Center for Entrepreneurship (ACE) at Lexington-based Awesome Inc.

“The RISE grant significantly expands our office’s New Ventures team, which furthers our strategic initiative to better support our entrepreneurial researchers in the company creation process and develop UK into a high-functioning incubator of startups in the region,” said Ian McClure, OTC director. “By additionally supporting Lexington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, we put to work the notion that startups are a product of their environment, and we look forward to supporting that environment already thriving in this region from the foundation laid by so many, including the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship (VACE), Bluegrass Angels (BGA) and the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership (BBDP). Building on this foundation, we are excited to continue our collaborative efforts with these partners.”

The expansion of OTC’s New Ventures team will provide a broader range of services for startup companies created to develop and advance early stage technologies developed at UK and in the community. OTC’s New Ventures services, branded “Co.Create,” will expand operations on campus and in downtown Lexington. The campus office will be part of OTC’s offices located in the Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center (ASTeCC). The downtown office will be co-located with the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center and Commerce Lexington Economic Development teams adjacent to Awesome Inc.’s headquarters.

Eric Hartman, who previously served as director of the Lexington office of the Kentucky Innovation Network, will join OTC and serve as director of “Co.Create.”

“With this award, UK startups will be more closely linked to startup resources available in Lexington to create and accelerate their scalable, technology-based businesses,” Hartman said. “Likewise, Lexington startups that are not directly affiliated with the university will have a direct link to UK for access to available talent, research and resources.”  

"Co.Create" will be part of an expanded New Ventures & Alliances team at OTC led by Associate Director Taunya Phillips.

“We are excited to be able to bring more services to UK and community startups and look forward to strengthening our partnerships with the BGA and the BBDP because of this grant,” Phillips said.

Support for these partnerships is planned to include creating educational programs for startup entrepreneurs, mentoring early stage Lexington-based startups, recruiting startup companies to Lexington, and working with partners to organize community programming for startups and entrepreneurs such as Startup Breakfast, SPARK and Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Lexington has developed a robust startup ecosystem that is consistently ranked near the top in the Midwest. As a university city, UK is a critical partner in Lexington’s success.

“As a land-grant university, UK takes seriously our charge to invest in and develop the talent in our state,” said Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research. “There is power in partnerships, and we look forward to supporting our entrepreneurial investigators alongside our Lexington community partners. Together we can create solutions for Kentucky and beyond.”

The Office of Technology Commercialization is the technology transfer office for the University of Kentucky. The core mission of the OTC is to facilitate the commercialization of innovations and discoveries for the benefit of the university community, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and global society.