NIH-funded Network Led by XLerateHealth and UK Supports HBCU Commercialization

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 22, 2020) — The University of Kentucky and XLerateHealth, a national startup accelerator, are partnering with Jackson State University (JSU) to launch a program that helps advance and commercialize innovative human health focused ideas from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The program is receiving support from the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded accelerator hub that supports health care innovation in 24 academic institutions across the Southeastern United States.

The program, “Engaging Researchers and Innovators for Commercialization at HBCUs” (EnRICH), is spearheaded by JSU. It’s designed for faculty and student innovators at HBCUs that are located in all IDeA-eligible states, which includes 25 HBCUs. 

Supported by XLerateHealth, a health care startup accelerator in Louisville, Kentucky, and by UK, the lead academic institution for the XLerator Network, EnRICH is an outgrowth of NIH funding UK received in October 2018 — $3.5 million over three years — to create the XLerator Network.

EnRICH will impact equity, diversity and inclusion in the innovation process, train HBCU faculty and students at HBCUs to critically evaluate the commercial potential of new health care innovations and support intellectual property protections for selected innovations. 

“The University of Kentucky is excited for the opportunity to partner with Jackson State University and support the EnRICH program. We believe in the profound power of increasing accessibility for historically marginalized communities, and we look forward to helping improve equity in discovery and innovation,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. 

EnRICH leverages the nationally recognized capabilities of UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization in protecting and commercializing intellectual property, XLerateHealth’s extensive experience with conducting biomedical technology accelerator programs, as well as the NSF I-Corps Site program at JSU. The program will provide underrepresented minorities with access to expert knowledge, entrepreneurship best practices, professional networks, mentorship, and additional resources. The goal is to expand the program to other minority-serving institutions.

“JSU is excited to lead this very important initiative, as it has great implications for creating sustainable impact on equity, diversity and inclusion in innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Thomas K. Hudson, acting president of Jackson State University.

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About Jackson State University: Jackson State University, founded in 1877, is a historically black, high research activity university located in Jackson, the capital city of Mississippi. Jackson State’s nurturing academic environment challenges individuals to change lives through teaching, research and service. Officially designated as Mississippi’s Urban University, Jackson State continues to enhance the state, nation and world through comprehensive economic development, healthcare, technological and educational initiatives. The only public university in the Jackson metropolitan area, Jackson State is located near downtown, with five satellite locations throughout the area. For more information, visit

About XLerateHealth: Founded in 2013, XLerateHealth (XLH) exists to cultivate and grow impactful healthcare innovation in the Midwest, Southeast and other areas of the country where great innovation often goes unrecognized and underfunded. XLH supports the development of healthcare innovation through the XLH Accelerator, an early-stage healthcare accelerator that helps start-ups commercialize their business and attract funding, and the XLerator Network, an NIH-funded partnership with 24 academic institutions to support the commercialization of promising life science and healthcare innovation in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) states. XLH has evolved to become one of the longest standing healthcare accelerator programs in the U.S. In 2019, the accelerator program expanded to Flint, Michigan. Find out more about XLH by visiting