Ian McClure, Associate Vice President for research, innovation and economic impact for UK Innovate
In April of this year, the University of Kentucky (UK) created UK Innovate, an innovation, entrepreneurship and economic enterprise for UK Research. The plan is to move university research into the world faster through industry partnerships, social innovation and economic development initiatives.
Louisville Future spoke with Ian McClure, who is the associate vice president for research, innovation and economic impact for UK Innovate, about how the initiative came to be and its plans.
How did KY Innovate come about?
McClure: For the last four years, I was the executive director of our Office of Technology Commercialization at UK, which is where we manage all of our intellectual property and licensing startup for companies that spin out commercially.
We went above benchmark levels in almost every metric of the office: patents filed, licenses done, startup companies developed, inventions disclosed and so on. At the same time, UK Research increased its research expenditures by almost 30%. So we set up a plan within UK to take advantage of this momentum by increasing our research and innovation capacity through new programs and new industry partnering efforts. We’re building three new areas within that.
What are those areas?
McClure: One is social innovation, which will be focused on social impact and social enterprise. We will build startup companies that may be nonprofit, but could be for-profit company where the mission is more [focused on] social impact and advocacy.
The next area is innovation and economic development. We’re putting a new team behind industry partnerships for research and innovation. We’ll build new collaborative research projects that align with the priority of industries in the state of Kentucky. For instance, we will forge partnerships for research in the metals industry and around advanced manufacturing for automotive and component parts for aerospace.
The third area we're calling 'innovation and entrepreneurship training.' It’s a set of programs, people and resources dedicated to changing the mindset of our researchers toward product development and entrepreneurship. On top of that, we're building a new UK Venture Fund, being one of the first universities to do something like that. This will be an alumni-led venture fund, and it will be a large injection of private capital to help fund the maturation of some of the best technologies that will come out of these new programs.