Home » UK partners in new nonprofit to foster innovation in metals industry

UK partners in new nonprofit to foster innovation in metals industry

LEXINGTON, Ky. — 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 comprises collaborators throughout Kentucky’s innovation ecosystem.

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

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