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UKCED featured in Winter Kentucky Alumni magazine
The Fast Track for innovation: UK has a hands-on role
Though the general economy may have its woes, UK alumni, faculty, clinicians and staff are doing something about it. For example, Tony Schmidt, a 2010 College of Engineering grad, started his own company, APOonline, as a student. He received valuable guidance from the Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center (Lexington ICC), part of the UK Office for Commercialization and Economic Development (UK CED) that is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and their startup companies succeed.
Schmidt’s goal was to help his fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, a co-educational national service fraternity, organize administrative duties through such items as online event calendars, blogs, and membership rosters. This application also allows organizations to manage and track students’ community service hours throughout the semester. This community-based online organization management service is now helping other chapters around the nation. Schmidt has also started greektrack.com and manageyour.org, which use similar applications.
“The Lexington ICC played a key role in introducing me and my business to the wonderful entrepreneurial community that Lexington, Kentucky holds. The Lexington ICC not only hosts, but also sponsors several entrepreneurial events around the Lexington area that continue to fuel my passion for entrepreneurship,” says Schmidt. “I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to start a company here in Lexington and had the consistent support from the Lexington ICC and the [entrepreneurial] community it helped create.”
Office for Commercialization and Economic Development
To grow Kentucky’s economy, UK CED commercializes UK faculty, staff and student research and clinician innovations, forms R&D and industry partnerships, works with local, state and federal economic development agencies, and develops new and existing businesses. Simply put, the UK office helps create new spinout companies and new jobs in the Commonwealth, and has had an impact on new business growth:
- 1st in creating startup companies among UK benchmark institutions
- 351 total active patents in drug development and design, plant biotech, equine health, and materials for medical implants, drug delivery systems and medical devices
- 169 total licenses
- $2.2 million in gross licensing revenue in 2010
“We are the university’s agent for delivering innovative technologies to companies that will be developed into new products for the marketplace,” said Len Heller, vice president for UK CED. “Our goal is to facilitate the growth of UK’s intellectual assets and provide opportunities for startup companies and existing businesses to grow and be successful.”
As the university’s nexus for commercializing UK technology and creating spinoff companies and jobs, UK CED manages UK’s patent and technology portfolio, and includes the Advanced Science & Technology Commercialization Center (ASTeCC) campus incubator,
Technology Transfer, Coldstream Research Campus, Kentucky Small Business Development Center, Kentucky Technology Inc., Lexington Innovation & Commercialization Center and the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship.
The Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship including the downtown office, the Lexington ICC, serves the UK community and Bluegrass entrepreneurs by helping develop and support startup companies with services such market research, commercialization assessment, and assistance with business plans and marketing strategies. The Von Allmen Center also connects entrepreneurs to the Bluegrass Angels and Bluegrass Angel Venture Funds, the Lexington Venture Club, and the Kentucky High-Tech Funding Program.
The Kentucky Small Business Development Center has 15 service centers statewide and provides consulting and training services to help business owners and entrepreneurs succeed. Some of its services include one-on-one management consultations, training workshops and loan packaging assistance. In 2010, the KSBDC helped start 196 businesses, create or retain 817 jobs, and assist 124 distressed businesses around the state.
Coldstream Research Campus is situated on 735 acres owned by the University of Kentucky. The campus is home to 62 companies, many are UK startups in the areas of pharmacy, biotech, agriculture, equine research, engineering and sustainable energy. Recently, Tempur-Pedic held a groundbreaking for its international headquarters to open in December 2012.
Starting a spinoff company
There’s no doubt that entrepreneurship is one of the most important ingredients in having a thriving community and a sustainable economy. And it’s fair to say that no two companies get their start in the same way. UK is providing the resources necessary to help new companies, whether they are offshoots of research started at UK by students or faculty, companies started by UK alums, or Kentucky companies looking for expertise to take their ideas to the next level.
Daniel Lau, co-founder of Seikowave Inc. in Lexington, is an associate professor in the
College of Engineering whose research interests include 3-D imaging sensors, 3-D fingerprint identification, and multispectral color acquisition and display. His company created a 3-D imaging platform that is designed to make imaging faster, cheaper and more accessible for medical and industrial needs by using optics similar to those found in digital cameras.
Seikowave co-founder and President Matt Bellis, says that the Von Allmen Center for Entrepreneurship helped to target investment funding. “Although we received investment from a variety of funds located in the United States and Japan, the Von Allmen Center really helped us get connected to sources of funding in the state of Kentucky.
These sources of funding were critical to getting the company up-and-running,”he says. “The Von Allmen Center also helped us secure office space — we are located in the ASTeCC building. We also have three UK engineers on staff and the Von Allmen Center helped us identify at least one of these engineers.”
Sometimes what UK and Kentucky have to offer becomes very attractive to those in other states. A prime example of this is Orthopeutics L.P./Intralink Spine Inc., a biotechnology company that relocated from Texas to the UK Coldstream Research Campus. The company is working on an injectable tissue revitalization reagent for the treatment of degenerative disc disease and lower back pain. Three employees moved to Lexington in fall 2010, and the company plans to add more high-tech positions as it begins to manufacture the device. According to Orthopeutics/Intralink Spine CEO and President Eric Hauck, Kentucky’s matching funds program for SBIRs and STTRs was the initial impetus to relocate from Texas to Kentucky.
Tom Hedman, chief scientific officer and founder for Orthopeutics/Intralink Spine, holds a joint UK faculty appointment in engineering and medicine. He says he was convinced to move his company to Kentucky because of UK’s clear interest to collaborate in the research and development of his technology. To that end, the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership, an economic development initiative between Lexington city government, Commerce Lexington and UK CED, had a hand in helping Orthopeutics/Intralink Spine select a Lexington location and evaluate funding sources.
Proof positive that collaborations like these work, continue to supply the well of innovation, and have potential for developing new jobs? Since arriving in Kentucky,
Orthopeutics/Intralink Spine has started Equinext LLC, a new biotech spinoff company. Equinext is partnering with Lexington-based Hagyard Equine Medical Institute to produce a chemically made injectable reagent device for the equine market that will treat tendon and ligament injuries and Wobbler’s Syndrome in horses and other animals. Clinical trials are expected to begin in the next year.
For more information on UK CED, visit www.econdev.uky.edu.
Article by Linda Perry and Kacie P. Miller