UK partners in new nonprofit to foster innovation in metals industry


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 14, 2022) — The University of Kentucky is a strategic partner in a new nonprofit to foster innovation in Kentucky’s expanding metals industry.

The Metals Innovation Initiative (MI2) is a Kentucky-based nonprofit that provides collaborative, industry-led executive leadership to attract and promote advanced research, sustainability, commercialization and talent development in the Commonwealth’s metals industry.

“We see MI2 as a real win for Kentucky and one of our top industries in the Commonwealth,” said Landon Borders, executive director of UK Innovation Connect, part of UK Innovate. “It is truly special to have leaders from our top metals companies, our state government and our academic institutions come together to tackle the most challenging problems and grow together.”

Kentucky’s metals sector has grown into one of the state’s most substantial industries, with more than 230 facilities statewide accounting for approximately 25,000 full-time jobs.

”Kentucky already has a thriving metals industry in materials like steel, aluminum and copper,” said MI2 CEO Vijay Kamineni. “And we have colleges and universities, workforce development organizations and economic development entities all interested in putting their time, effort and resources toward further growing innovation in that thriving industry to create more opportunities for Kentuckians. MI2 provides the platform to promote collaboration across all those organizations.”

MI2 launched as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in September 2022 with a two-day summit of industry executives, higher education leaders, government officials and other support organizations, held at Western Kentucky University, where MI2 is headquartered.

MI2’s founding metals industry platinum members are Kobe Aluminum Automotive Products, Logan Aluminum, North American Stainless, Novelis, Nucor, River Metals Recycling, Tri-Arrows Aluminum and Wieland.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear previously pledged government support and partnerships with MI2 as industry leaders proceeded with the endeavor. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation is coordinating that support in partnership with the Kentucky Science of Technology Corporation (KSTC). MI2 is being supported from a research and higher education standpoint by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and other strategic partners, including UK.

“MI2 is excited to have UK involved as a key strategic partner and appreciates their support of this initiative from the beginning of its formation,” Kamineni said.

UK experts will be part of five working groups: branding, grants and funding, sustainability and talent, workforce, and strategy and structure. Borders will represent UK in the strategy and structure working group. The other groups will work to enhance public perception of the metals industry, obtain grants to attract and promote research, foster collaborations among MI2 members to create industry sustainability and start initiatives to recruit, retain and enhance talents. 

Each working group is chaired by a metals industry leader and is composed of collaborators throughout Kentucky’s innovation ecosystem.

UK faculty or staff that are interested in learning more or in getting involved are encouraged to reach out to Landon Borders or Kim Sayre, the Innovation Connect Manager for UK Innovate.

About UK Innovate 

UK Innovate at the University of Kentucky is the innovation, entrepreneurship and economic enterprise for University of Kentucky Research. Through technology commercialization, corporate partnerships, social innovation, innovation training and economic development initiatives related to UK’s research innovations, talent and community, UK Innovate works to move ideas into the world faster, where they can make the greatest social and economic impact possible. Learn more at

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.