LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville and partners are creating a hub aimed at supporting and accelerating regional innovation and entrepreneurship, with a special focus on the city’s robust health care sector.
“Together, we will commercialize university research, enhance the region’s reputation for innovation, grow jobs and economic development and build the next generation of leaders in the health care sector,” said UofL president Dr. Neeli Bendapudi.
The entrepreneur-led hub, dubbed the Louisville Entrepreneurship Acceleration Partnership (LEAP), is backed by a multimillion-dollar RISE grant funded by KY Innovation through the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. The award is $1.3 million per year for up to five years.
The LEAP effort joins several players in the Louisville entrepreneurship ecosystem — UofL, the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council and XLerate Health, along with support from GLI’s Enterprise Corp., the MED Institute and Techstars.
“It is inspiring to see the expertise of these partners come together for the common good,” said Will Metcalf, UofL’s executive director of Research Development and Strategic Initiatives and the principal investigator on the grant. “Together we are building a community that cultivates and supports elite entrepreneurs.”
LEAP has also hired a seasoned entrepreneur, Wendy Lea, to spearhead its programs and initiatives. Lea is the previous CEO of Cintrifuse, a public-private partnership innovation hub focused on economic development and creating value for both startups and large companies.
“This RISE partnership will kick Louisville’s startup ecosystem into high gear,” Lea said. “I look forward to taking a promising ecosystem to the next level.”
The partnership will also include support from GLI’s Enterprise Corp, the entrepreneurial arm of the Louisville chamber of commerce, which will work with LEAP’s board on education and mentorship programs. Also, TechStars, a national tech accelerator, will support program initiatives.
Each partner brings its own expertise and will contribute to programming that includes physical space, entrepreneurial training, building funding channels, forging connections between startups and big companies and other support.
“Through this collaboration, LEAP will tie together and evolve Kentucky’s existing entrepreneurial ecosystem to cultivate fast growth startup companies and attract the people and financial resources needed to create further innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Tammy York Day, president and CEO of LHCC.