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.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.