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Kentucky technology transfer professionals leading national innovation conversations

Kentucky will be represented by nearly 30 technology transfer professionals at the upcoming AUTM annual meeting February 19 – 22, 2023 in Austin, Texas. AUTM is an international nonprofit professional association supporting technology transfer professionals to develop academic research that drives innovation. The group is comprised of more than 3,000 members at more than 800 organizations.


AUTM advocated for the technology transfer capacity-building authorizations in Section 10391 of the CHIPS and Science Act. This is the first time that federal law authorized funding for technology transfer resources and University of Kentucky Associate Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact Ian McClure played a role in drafting early language that eventually crystallized into this Section.


Kentucky's involvement in AUTM means we can disseminate and replicate what we’re learning in our statewide ecosystem at a global scale.

Among those representing Kentucky at AUTM’s annual meeting are groups from University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Kentucky Commercialization Ventures (KCV), including representatives from the state’s public higher education institutions. Members from Kentucky’s contingent will be presenting more than eight sessions at the meeting on topics ranging from technology transfer office structure and funding to social innovation.


“We are doing such great work supporting research and innovators in Kentucky,” shared KCV Executive Director Kayla Meisner. “Our involvement in AUTM means we can disseminate and replicate what we’re learning in our statewide ecosystem at a global scale.”


Kentucky’s presence in AUTM leadership has been strong for several years. The technology transfer operations at Kentucky’s two R1 research universities, University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, are led by AUTM’s current board chair, Ian McClure, and immediate past chair, Laura Savatski, respectively. Megan Aanstoos, licensing and new ventures manager at KCV, was also elected to the Board of Directors and will begin her term in 2023.


“AUTM is such an important connection point for our field, and I’m proud that my team, the University of Louisville and our state have such strong representation,” said Savatski, who leads technology transfer for UofL. “There are impactful technologies coming out of UofL research — ones that can save and improve lives. This is an opportunity to connect with others who share the same mission of translating those groundbreaking inventions for the marketplace.”


Despite its status as a smaller state in terms of university research expenditures and number of R1 universities, Kentucky is providing national thought leadership related to innovation and entrepreneurship.


Kentucky is currently exhibiting national and international thought leadership in the field of technology transfer and research commercialization.

“While we are commercializing technologies at a successful rate here in the state, Kentucky is also currently exhibiting national and international thought leadership in the field of technology transfer and research commercialization,” shared McClure.


Three Kentuckians — Ian McClure, Grace Simerall, and Brit Fitzpatrick — were appointed last year to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE) by United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Kentucky is the only state other than New York and California to have more than two representatives on the Council.


Kentucky is also becoming a flagship state for inclusive innovation through KCV, a national model for inclusive innovation led by the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation. The initiative was discussed at length by policymakers drafting the CHIPS and Science Act. Eventually, its framework was drafted into the final bill under Section 10391 as the inspiration for the Collaborative Innovation Resource Centers program that authorizes funding to create shared resource centers similar to KCV to provide tech transfer and innovation resources to regions and institutions without such dedicated offices. Kentucky is the only state in the country to provide such a unique model.


“Our support for institutions without dedicated commercialization resources is driving innovative research and meaningful solutions for some of our state’s toughest problems,” added Meisner. “It’s exciting to see national interest for the unique model we’ve created in Kentucky.”


Inclusive innovation has become a tenant of Kentucky’s innovation ecosystem and Kentucky leaders are amplifying this work nationwide. McClure and KY Innovation Executive Director Monique Kuykendoll Quarterman were part of the founding team for the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Proof-of-Concept Action Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. This committee now advises NIH Proof-of-Concept Network programs on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) matters. Additionally, KCV’s Megan Aanstoos served as inaugural chair of AUTM’s EDI committee.


Diverse representation at the leadership level of Kentucky’s innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship ecosystem is driving a national perception that Kentucky is the leader in inclusive innovation.

McClure credits diverse representation at the leadership level throughout the state for elevating Kentucky’s reputation nationally. The commercialization offices at University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and KCV are led by women, with two of the only Black female technology transfer directors in the country. KY Innovation, the state’s innovation and entrepreneurship office, is also led by a Black woman.


“This representation of diversity and inclusion at the leadership level of Kentucky’s innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship ecosystem is instrumental in the developing culture,” shared McClure. “It is driving a national perception that Kentucky is the leader in inclusive innovation.”




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