The Power of Partnership: Transforming Kentucky's Healthcare Startup Ecosystem

Photo of UK's campus

Last week, I had the opportunity to join elected officials and senior leadership from other Kentucky institutions to announce the four-year Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) grant from the National Institutes of Health. It is yet another example of crucial progress made possible by our people.

At UK, we know that the most promising solutions are often found at the intersection of disciplines, in close collaboration, and through strong and enduring partnerships.

We are deeply grateful for this collaboration with our sister institutions in higher education, the Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3), and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, as we work to bring dozens of new med-tech and health-related companies to life across the state in the coming years.

The grant will help fund a public-private consortium, the Kentucky Network for Innovation & Commercialization, or KYNETIC. The new organization will advance the most promising biomedical research innovations from the state’s eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Ultimately, its goal is to create startups that commercialize the technologies for public benefit.

Of course, we would not be at such an important intersection without the exemplary work of Dr. Linda Dwoskin from UK and Dr. Paula Bates from the University of Louisville, the principle investigators on this grant.

Dr. Dwoskin has served as a catalyst for collaboration at our institution. She initiated the Igniting Research Collaborations Pilot Program to increase interdisciplinary scientific engagement and to leverage expertise across campus to tackle important health problems. 

Indeed, this grant will bolster our efforts to expand what’s possible in accelerating commercialization and caring for the public’s health.

It provides another critical opportunity to build upon our considerable research strength in healthcare-related innovations and technology.

I often say that success has many fathers and mothers, and there are several people to whom I would like to express my gratitude—many of whom were able to join us for the announcement. I’d like to thank the General Assembly and Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Vivek Sarin for shepherding economic development through higher education.

I’d also like to thank President Neeli Bendapudi, in addition to administrators involved in commercialization efforts at our sister institutions, as well as Dr. Aaron Thompson, President of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Finally, we could not build a brighter future for Kentucky without the C3 Board members, as well as Dr. Lisa Cassis, UK Vice President for Research, and Ian McClure, Executive Director of the UK Office of Technology Commercialization.

This grant underscores the fact that, at UK we are committed to asking – and to expanding—what’s possible.