Home » Kentucky launches university technology commercialization initiative

Kentucky launches university technology commercialization initiative

Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3) to increase economic impact of work across state’s higher education system

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Matt Bevin today announced the formation of the Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3), a national-model partnership between Kentucky’s universities and colleges to translate intellectual property and innovations into market-ready products and startups while providing businesses access to collective public resources.

Led by the Cabinet for Economic Development’s KY Innovation office, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, C3 will provide resources to all the state’s public universities and colleges. Faculty and students at Kentucky institutions will have access to shared services including identification, development, marketing and protection of intellectual property, increased industry engagement and student experiential learning and workforce development. The program will also foster interstate collaboration to form a regional commercialization corridor. C3 will be funded in part through a $1.2 million grant from KY Innovation.

“The C3 initiative positions Kentucky as a leader in university research commercialization and will significantly strengthen our overall innovation infrastructure,” Gov. Bevin said. “The cutting-edge research being conducted at our institutions of higher learning can compete with any state in the nation. C3 enables all of our colleges and universities to share resources to support commercialization, to mobilize capital, and to transform that research into fuel for economic growth.”

Brian Mefford, executive director of KY Innovation, said current businesses will benefit as well.

“C3 will offer a single point of entry for startups and corporations interested in engaging with our universities and the talent and innovation that can fuel growth for their businesses,” Mefford said. “We want C3 to become known as a key partner for innovation, research and development for entrepreneurs and CEOs who are looking to locate or grow their business in Kentucky.”

Presidents and top research administrators from most of the state’s public institutions held a rare summit in August during the Cabinet’s KY Innovation Day to plan the partnership. Although many of the state’s universities and colleges have both historically and recently invested in commercialization efforts, most acknowledged some gaps in their existing lineups of services necessary to bring research and development to market. UK and UofL have committed their commercialization offices to collaboratively leading C3, while Morehead State University, Murray State University, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University and Kentucky Community and Technical College System helped develop C3’s framework.

“I am inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit among the faculty, staff, and students at the University of Kentucky,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “We are committed to harnessing that spirit and further connecting the creative research and development on our campus into tangible solutions in our communities. This new mechanism allows us to share resources and knowledge with our sister institutions across the state and, in partnership, strengthen our economic development pipeline.”

UofL President Neeli Bendapudi said C3 will add a new dimension to the state’s economy.

“The University of Louisville has long been a driver of innovation and the translation of technologies into the marketplace,” Bendapudi said. “We are excited to partner with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development and the University of Kentucky to disseminate our vast knowledge and successes in commercialization for the advancement of the commonwealth. The innovations emerging from Kentucky’s research universities, UofL and UK, and other state universities will be key to transforming the economic profile of the commonwealth.”

Ian McClure, director of UK’s Office of Technology Commercialization, said C3 sets apart Kentucky as a model for putting innovation to work.

“Innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship communities are all products of their culture and access to resources,” McClure said. “Successful environments have at their center research and academic institutions that embody this culture and facilitate this access. Through this partnership and state-supported initiative, we are advancing this notion and investing in the development of commercialization culture and resources around our Commonwealth’s universities and colleges. I am grateful for KY Innovation’s support, and for the partnership of all of the participating public institutions, and look forward to seeing the bar raised in making Kentucky a regional commercialization leader.”

The state’s flagship universities will also use KY Innovation resources to connect all public institutions with federally funded commercialization and entrepreneurship programs, allow easier access to the marketplace for research-driven IP, promote industry sponsored collaborative research opportunities for all participants and aggressively pursue grants.

Jay Morgan, president of Morehead State University, said the program can potentially build on the state’s and MSU’s advances in science and technology.

“Morehead State University looks forward to participating in a shared vision to advance technology transfer and commercialization across Kentucky’s institutions of higher learning,” President Morgan said. “Because MSU has a tradition of excellence in applied research and an international reputation for developing cutting-edge space science technology, we look forward to partnering with our sister institutions to make the Commonwealth a leader in science and technology innovation.”

C3 will offer:

  • Advising for administrators related to IP policies, industry research, culture development and innovation management
  • Advisory services from faculty
  • Increased education opportunities related to innovation, IP and commercialization
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Invention review and feedback
  • IP protection; market research and strategy
  • Industry engagement
  • Student engagement
  • Startup creation assistance
  • Patent and startup legal services
  • Grant coordination

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at ThinkKentucky.com.