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Heller named Vice President for Commercialization and Economic Development
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 12, 2006) − The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees today approved the appointment of Leonard E. Heller of Lexington as vice president for commercialization and economic development.
Heller comes to UK after a career as a business developer, a state official, a university administrator and a business consultant.
"Len brings a wealth and variety of experience to this position that will allow him to steer UK to greater effectiveness as a motivator of entrepreneurs and an economic engine for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He has shown he sees the potential of new technologies in the marketplace, and that skill will be enormously beneficial to enhancing Kentucky's economic prosperity in the 21st century," said UK President Lee T. Todd Jr.
Under Heller's direction, the new office will oversee the university's commercialization and business development resources, the Intellectual Property Development Office, UK's on-campus business incubators, the Advanced Science Technology Commercialization Center (ASTeCC) and the Agricultural Technology Commercialization Center (AgTeCC), Kentucky Technology Inc. and Coldstream Research Campus.
The office also will assess and streamline the processes that market UK's scientific discoveries, and build the relationships with city and state government agencies needed to promote effective economic development.
"An important part of UK's mission is to be a catalyst for economic growth," Heller said. "President Todd underscored this by creating this new office for commercialization and economic development. We'll be more aggressive in moving UK's intellectual property into the marketplace and facilitating joint research projects with private industry."
Heller comes into this new UK office with entrepreneurial experience, having founded WTT Inc., a Lexington company that developed and marketed substance abuse tests for thoroughbred race horses. The company's success led to its acquisition by Neogen Corp., with Heller assuming an ownership position in that company. He serves on Neogen's board of directors.
Heller has been instrumental in the formation of the Bluegrass Angels, a central Kentucky venture capital fund established to invest in area startup companies. He also was chairman of the board of managers for the Bluegrass Angels Venture Fund. He has been active in the Lexington Venture Club, a group of business people organized to help entrepreneurs meet potential investors.
He serves on the board of Health Kentucky, a non-profit corporation that provides free pharmaceuticals and physician visits to underprivileged Kentuckians who are not Medicaid-eligible.
Heller has consulted for a variety of businesses, business groups, universities and government agencies, including the U.S. Trade Development board on the privatization of Argentina's health care system and state government agencies in Iowa, Alaska and Michigan.
Heller is no stranger to Kentuckians, having served two years from 1991 to 1993 under then-Gov. Brereton Jones as secretary of the Cabinet for Human Resources, where he oversaw and made policy governing six departments and 15,000 state employees. He chaired the State Commission on Health Care Reform during that period, and served on the State Task force on Cost Containment and Quality on Health, the State Commission on Child Support Enforcement and the State Commission on the Kentucky Information System.
Since 1996, Heller has served as a part-time professor in UK's Martin School of Public Policy and Public Administration. He was on the faculties of the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan and Baylor College of Medicine, and was a professor of behavioral science in the UK College of Medicine.
He has served as vice chancellor for academic affairs at UK's Albert B. Chandler Medical Center from 1983 to 1986, and as assistant dean of educational development at the UK College of Medicine from 1977 to 1983. Heller also has held administrative positions at the University of Michigan College of Medicine.
Heller earned his bachelor's degree in natural sciences and education (1968), his master's degree in administration and organizational development (1970) and his doctorate in administration, organizational development and research methodology (1972) at the University of Kansas.
He and his wife Elizabeth have two children.