Statewide committee adopts 7-year Kentucky Science & Technology Plan

Photo provided by KY NSF EPSCoR.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 16, 2023) — The Kentucky Statewide EPSCoR Committee, the governing body of the state’s National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program, on July 31, 2023, voted to adopt the Kentucky Science & Technology Plan: Vision 2030 (S&T Plan). This statewide science and technology plan is intended to serve as a strategic roadmap for science and technology initiatives and to guide the efficient use of resources and investments in the Commonwealth over the next seven years.

The plan was developed by the Statewide EPSCoR Committee in partnership with the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) and with support from RTI International and Keen Point Consulting. Additional support was provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville.

“Nationally, this is an exciting and dynamic time for NSF EPSCoR. The 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, which is the largest federal investment ever recommended for EPSCoR jurisdictions, includes 20% set aside for NSF funding and scholarships. The Statewide Committee, through the S&T Plan, will ensure our state is best poised to take advantage of these new opportunities to continue building our research capacity and STEM workforce,” said Kentucky Statewide EPSCoR Program Executive Chair Cathleen Webb. “At its foundation, the S&T Plan is designed to foster success for the economy of the Commonwealth and improve the prosperity and lives of our citizens.”

The S&T Plan satisfies a requirement of Kentucky’s 2023 research capacity–building Track 1 proposal to NSF EPSCoR and updates the previous plan: 2017 Kentucky Statewide Science, Technology, and Innovation Plan. Most importantly, it sets a roadmap for Kentucky’s S&T initiatives and a flexible framework for advancing these initiatives in rapidly changing fields. As execution of the plan progresses, additional stakeholders and collaborators will be engaged and the plan will be updated in order to nimbly respond to state and national priorities.

The plan is informed by Kentucky’s economic development priorities and includes four areas for action: High-Tech Industry Growth; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Research Competitiveness; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education.

“Kentucky is experiencing record economic growth, and now is the time to capitalize on that momentum,” said Monique Quarterman, executive director of KY Innovation, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “This S&T Plan sets the stage for us to exponentially grow our statewide capacity for research and innovation and make the most of a growing number of federal funding opportunities.”

Four target industry sectors are identified in the S&T Plan as important to Kentucky’s economic growth and development: Advanced Manufacturing; Supply Chain and Logistics; Health and Agriculture; and Climate and Resiliency. The plan also focuses attention on four high-priority research areas: Materials; Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning; Energy Transition; and Engineering.

“The S&T Plan addresses Kentucky’s need for higher-wage/higher value-added industry, investment in K–20 STEM education, and critical infrastructure to catalyze the growth of new and existing companies in key industry sectors,” said KSTC President Terry Samuel. “Over the next 10 years, STEM-related jobs are expected to grow at a faster rate than non-STEM jobs. Implementation of the S&T Plan will be integral to how well Kentucky’s economy capitalizes on and even exceeds this growth.”

Statewide partners play a significant role on the Kentucky Statewide EPSCoR Committee and were instrumental to the development of the plan. Achievement of the goals and initiatives outlined in the plan relies heavily on university-industry-government coordination and collaboration.

“The impact of higher education is seen in each of the S&T Plan’s four action areas: High-Tech Industry Growth; Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Research Competitiveness; and STEM Education,” said University of Kentucky Vice President for Research and Kentucky EPSCoR committee member Lisa Cassis. “We can tie our research initiatives to a direct economic impact for the state. The strategic goals set forth in the 2030 Vision S&T Plan will help Kentucky remain competitive with strong industry growth and a skilled workforce.”

“Innovative ideas have the ability to save and improve lives, and this plan affirms both our university’s and our state’s commitment to fostering those ideas through innovation, research and entrepreneurship,” said University of Louisville Executive Vice President for Research and Innovation and Kentucky EPSCoR committee member Kevin Gardner. “UofL is proud to partner with the state in bringing collaborators together to address some of Kentucky’s most complex issues and positively impact the lives of Kentuckians for generations to come.”

Those interested in learning more about the Kentucky Science & Technology Plan: Vision 2030 can view the full plan online.

You can learn more about Kentucky EPSCoR online here and the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation online 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.