UK OTC, Partners Receive Phase II Funding for Southeast XLerator Network

photo of UK OTC hosts Site Leads Summit
UK's Office of Technology Commercialization hosted leaders from 24 universities for a “Site Leads Summit,” the first planning session for the Southeast XLerator Network Hub, in 2018.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 19, 2019) — In October 2018, it was announced that the University of Kentucky, as the academic lead partner of XLerateHealth, a health technology accelerator based in Louisville, and regional partners had received a federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant that could potentially total $3.5 million over three years to create a hub to accelerate the commercialization of biomedical technologies. This hub, one of four NIGMS IDeA Hubs, will benefit university innovators and their commercialization resource partners in the Southeast Institutional Development Award (IDeA) region (Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and West Virginia).

UK’s primary investigator on this grant is Ian McClure, executive director of the Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC). Co-investigators include Taunya Phillips, OTC’s senior associate director of New Ventures and Alliances, and Phillip Kern, associate provost for Clinical and Translational Sciences and director of Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS).

During the first year of this grant, an evaluation of the region’s gaps and strengths was conducted through a gap assessment survey, site visits and interviews at the 24 participating universities. The primary objective was to identify key resources, assets and best practices throughout the Southeast IDeA region, and capture gaps, barriers and the most pressing needs. Network building was a key component for the first year. The first meeting of all 24 participating universities, called the Site Leads Summit, was hosted in November 2018 at UK to bring all the participating institutions together to discuss the mission, goals, progress, governance and online platform design objectives. A governance and leadership structure was developed and is being used to manage both inputs and outputs from each of the states involved and Puerto Rico. The group is now called the Southeast XLerator Network.

The first year also saw the development of a tech transfer framework for institutions that do not have technology transfer offices (TTOs). Additionally, online platform design options were piloted and designed during Phase I and will enable networking for inventors, entrepreneurs, service providers, mentors and related stakeholders. It will also provide a means for assessing character fitness and technology readiness, offer engaging educational curriculum and a means for interacting with training content that will help best practice building at institutions across the region.

After the Phase I planning, OTC is pleased to announce that funding for Phase II was awarded. The award provides $1.49 million to execute on the Phase 1 planning. In addition, the Southeast XLerator Network was awarded an administrative supplement of $250,000 to fund the advancement of promising health technologies with commercial potential across the region, which the Hub has called the “Ideas to Products (I2P)” program.

During the second year, the plans are to pilot innovator and startup-focused programs, pilot accelerator “train-the-trainer” programs, build an online platform across the network and host an XLerator Network Conference.

“UK OTC is proud to be partnering with XLerate Health and to bring together so many research and commercialization leaders across the region for one mission of helping to accelerate health technologies to market," McClure said. "The work we are doing should have great impact on helping to create public benefit from health discoveries in the Southeast IDeA region."

The Office of Technology Commercialization (OTC) is the technology transfer office for the University of Kentucky. The core mission of the OTC is to advance innovation that makes a difference.

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 three 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" two 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 four 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.